In a break out session last week one person said, tongue in cheek, “will this help me make my difficult boss disappear?” We all laughed and yet the truth is your boss may not always be easy to deal with. They may have a different personality than you, different communication style than you, or simply, they may not have a clue. If this is who you believe you report to, what does this do to your upward mobility, promotability, and expectations of their leadership? In short, it could do a lot…of damage…if you let it. Today’s Monday Moment will help you thrive even in the face of clueless leaders and maybe even help you to give them a gracious clue or two.
It’s no secret that people get promoted, but not prepared, (a group we love to work with), and promoted who have no skills or business being in that position. But even when you know that intellectually, the expectation persists that because this person might be your boss, they have some responsibility to teach you more about your own position. Reassess. How on earth is the very leader that you have defined and labeled as clueless, to be expected to still give you guidance. Reexamine the areas in which you feel you need guidance most and take an active role in finding others who will guide you there. Look for informal mentors. Build additional relationships with other leaders or executives. However, if you talk badly or critically about your own boss or leader in the process, reassess that, too. No one will consider you to be promotable or professional if they have to listen to complaints spewing forth from you about the person who currently serves as your formal leader. We all have had bosses of whom we wondered what village was missing their idiot, but hopefully it was only temporary. Temporary or long term, if your desired outcome is to get the guidance you seek and need, reassess what you expect from the boss you think less of and find at least one small item or skill of theirs, you can learn from.
Colin Powel is quoted as saying “There are not secrets to success. It is the result of hard work, preparation and learning from failure.” Others have said success is not about what you know but who you know. Marry these two ideologies and recognize that continuing to believe your, previously labeled as ill equipped, boss is one of the mentors on which you should rely will at some point be one of the failures from which you’ll be forced to learn. Preparation for a leader who’s boss seems to be missing a few key clues, includes seeking out other opportunities to learn. This preparation includes learning more about your boss’s perspective, how to work with a person who gives direction far differently than you, and learning more about emotional intelligence and how everyone is coming from their own personality and perspective. They might simply be vastly different than you. Prepare yourself for the reality that not everyone operates, thinks, or believes in the same manner you do. Prepare yourself for the truth that even though your boss may be a lesser leader than you’d prefer, they are the one to which you currently report and a degree of respect is still expected.
Expect Different or Less
When it comes to expectations, we all have them. They are powerful and they lead our behavior and responses as much or more as our deeply held beliefs. In talking with a client just this morning, we discovered that it was the belief that “work was supposed to be hard” that led to the expectation that work would be hard and thus fueled his experience that work was in fact, hard. This simplified example shows how due to our own expectations we often complain about what we see. First, examine your beliefs. Then thoroughly investigate what you expect, truly. Leaders, managers, and people on the whole don’t argue with their own data, so what is expected tends to be how a person, behavior or situation is interpreted. Think of the old joke about the optimistic young boy who asked Santa for a pony. On Christmas morning he awakes to find instead a pile of horse manure under the tree in place of the expected presents or pony. Due to his optimism, he exclaims, with all of this horse manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere! Can you alter your expectations to allow you to look at the boss you believe to have no clue and proclaim “there must be some great clues on how NOT to lead in this experience!”