The Common Career Trade-off You Should Never Make

The Common Career Trade-off You Should Never Make

Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It

In a perfect world, your dream job would be at a great company, with a great boss. But, the odds of this special combination occurring are small.

There is a very good chance that at some point in your career, you are going to have to make the incredibly difficult decision between working for a good boss at a bad company, or a bad boss at a good company. This dilemma is so common and such a hard call that my husband, Jack Welch, and I refer to it as ‘The Classic.’

There are two common but different scenarios that you’ll likely encounter at different points in your career. In one instance, you may find yourself working for an encouraging boss who gives your work meaning and provides challenging assignments. They probably believe in you more than you believe in yourself.


In this case, work isn’t always easy, but it’s fun.

In another instance, you may find yourself dealing with a discouraging boss who likes to pit people against each other. This tact might get results, but it’s an unbearable work culture, and a lot of times you’re miserable.

While both scenarios put you in a bind, choosing to stick with a good boss at a bad company is the wrong decision.


A good boss at a bad company is only OK in the short run. They can make your life great for a while, or protect you from the organization’s dysfunction for a while. But bad companies eventually wear out good bosses, and they go.

Instead, always choose a good company, even if your boss is terrible. In the end, a thriving company will likely push that boss out for someone better.

What’s more, at a healthy company, your career will have a longer runway, because good companies typically have more growth.

Regardless of how hard this decision may seem, you should always hitch your wagon to a great company, and not a great individual. And hopefully someday, you’ll have both at the same time.

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.

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