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Pointy-Haired Bosses? Please.

Late last month, CNN Money published an expose of bosses who are also idiots. In addition to Jeanne Sahadi’s jokey outline of executive foibles, the essay offers one piece of advice: Get over it or get out.

That’s a little fatalistic, isn’t it?

In 1998, Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer suggested that toxic companies will eventually engineer their own demise. Is that still the case when the economy isn’t booming? Or does talent settle like so much sediment?

Not too long after we talked with Pfeffer, University of Pennsylvania professor John Eldred took a look at the new face of office politics, and Fast Company has also considered the upside and downside of office politics.

Rather than settling for the fatalistic failure of “fitting in,” I think Pfeffer’s advice is more appropriate: “Start with you.”

Start with a philosophy, and the rest follows from that. If you believe in training and developing people, you don’t necessarily need a huge training budget. You begin by imparting knowledge in various ways — by holding meetings, by talking to people, by coaching them, by mentoring them. If you believe in reciprocal commitments, you start by building those commitments with the people you work with. If you believe in information sharing, you share information with the people you have the most contact with. In other words, you begin in your immediate sphere of influence. You start with your own behavior.

Finally, Three Rivers Press published RealTime alumnus Michael Useem‘s book Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win early this year.

Are you fast or fatalistic? The choice is ours.