Good question with an answer that might surprise you. Your boss may be hard on you because he or she is equally hard on him or herself. But there’s also more to that statement and more to how you might approach this frequently told, woe-filled, employee story. Continuing to tell the story and creep closer to feeling stuck does very little for either party but is admittedly tempting. More effective is this: If you have a boss that is always demanding more, pushing for performance, or pressuring you for improvement, solutions could include you rising to the occasion, finding a new leader, or simply changing the way you’re viewing the situation. Look closely at your boss’s behavior and determine what you might be seeing, even more clearly, while then choosing what might be your best option.

My Boss is Demanding

What is your boss demanding exactly? If he or she is requesting more work or longer hours or more results, this is pretty normal. If the delivery of the request is coming across in a tone that seems demeaning or condescending, the sense you have of being picked on is not likely so much about what she’s asking for, but the way in which she’s asking. Examine what is being demanded of you and try to separate the difference between a request and a demand. A request for completion of something you don’t want to do, now or ever, does tend to sound more demanding. Your feelings about the task may be clouding your perception of your boss’s behavior.

My Boss is Pushy

Pushy is in the eye of the beholder and it is this perception that leaders with high levels of drive and ambition hear often. When one is constantly pushing himself, it is an easy transition to building the habit of pushing others. If left unaddressed, the pushing for more and always better, comes across as nothing being good enough. For leaders who feel their own upbringing and actions were never good enough for parents or others, the pushing of employees is worse in areas in which the leader also feels deficient. But if you’re the one pushing, take note of your reasons and definitions of good enough. Define what that is for you and for them. If you feel your boss is unreasonably pushy or overly critical, it may also be based on your own feelings of already not being good enough. In this case, your feelings about your value may cloud your perception of your boss being hard on you.

My Boss Pressures Me

On the surface of that statement, much more than work performance may come to mind, yet when your boss is reminding, asking, persuading, incentivizing, or even nagging you to increase or improve your performance, the real question is what’s keeping you from complying? Employees may feel overly pressured to perform and as if their boss is a negative constant nag if they consistently refuse, on purpose or otherwise, to do what the boss is asking. Leaders who rise to positions quickly are often those who relish a sense of control and like a challenge. Not doing what they ask the first few times creates frustration. Subsequent occurrences of continuing to not do as asked creates a challenge and that type of leader will jump on the opportunity to meet the challenge with more pressure. In this case, if not you’re feeing undo pressure, your reasons for not taking action may be clouding the amount of pressure you’re seeing from your leader.

For each leader, there is an element of emotional intelligence in their behavior. Personalities drive behavior and in this case, one personality in particular drives excessive demands, pushing, and pressure. In the CORE Profile® instrument used within Contagious Companies, this personality is called the Commander and much as the picture suggests, it can in times of stress cause even the most even keeled leader to appear to turn into a bull in a china shop making demands that become ever more forceful by the minute. Knowing who you are as a leader and knowing the effect that your needs and your motivations have on others, is paramount. Giving thought to your own behavior and encouraging those you lead to take a moment to consider the reasons for their behavior creates a winning combination. The real question is are you willing to take that look and conduct the introspection? The immediate next question is are you the one who’s pushy or hard on others and are you aware of this perception?

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of  www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121. To learn more about the CORE Profile® or to complete the abbreviated, free, CORE Snapshot™, follow this link.

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