Here are some keys to thriving whether your boss is good or bad.
How to Lead When Your Boss Can’t (or Won’t)
By John Maxwell
If you’re facing the challenge of working with a boss who can’t or won’t lead, you’re already in difficult circumstances. You may be able to improve your relationship with your boss and help your situation by doing the things I’ve suggested in the previous chapters. There’s no guarantee that things will get better. But I guarantee things can get worse.
You can take steps to avoid many of the common landmines that threaten to blow up a relationship with a boss—whether that boss is a good leader or a bad one. I recommend you follow this advice and help yourself.
AVOID CREEPING DISCONTENT
When you’re working for a bad boss, it’s easy to feel frustrated and discontented. However, it’s essential that you maintain a sense of positive contentment despite the challenges if you want to be successful. Remember that in the long run, success is more a matter of disposition than position. With the right mindset and the right skills, you can influence people no matter where you are in an organization. And you can feel a sense of reward for doing a job well.
So how do you develop an attitude of contentment and fulfillment while working for a difficult boss?
1. Develop Strong Relationships With Key People.
The key to fulfillment isn’t making every interaction with others go smoothly; it comes from developing strong relationships with people. It’s more important to get along with people than to get ahead of them. If you make it your goal to reach out to others and build relationships with them, you will derive fulfillment wherever you are. And whatever you do, don’t give up too easily on others if you at first don’t like them or easily connect with them. You may be surprised by how, over time, a potential adversary can become an ally.
2. Engage in Continual Communication.
As you interact with your boss, let him know how you are advancing the vision. Get his feedback and ask questions to find out if there are other things you should know to more effectively pass on the vision to others. The more effectively you fulfill your role and let your boss know how you’re contributing, the more fulfilled you will likely be.
3. Gain Experience and Maturity.
Maturity doesn’t come automatically, but you can develop it with experience if you maintain a longer view. Focusing on the responsibilities with which you are entrusted wherever you are and completing them with excellence will bring greater fulfillment than receiving recognition from your boss. And if you can maintain that long view, you will develop patience. That has great value because patience gives you time to learn, network and gain wisdom. Humorist Arnold Glasow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg—not smashing it.”
4. Put the Team Above Your Personal Success.
John Wooden said, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” In other words, teamwork is what creates success, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. One player may be crucial to a team, but one player cannot make a team. When the stakes are high, good team members put the success of the team ahead of their own personal gains. They work together, and they receive the satisfaction of achievement together.
Excerpted from How to Lead When Your Boss Can’t (or Won’t) by John C. Maxwell. Copyright © 2005 by John C. Maxwell. Used by permission of HarperCollins Leadership. HarperCollinsLeadership.com.