Over my working years, I have had some great bosses. What Jim Collins calls Level 5 leaders – humble, committed to the mission, effective, and caring leaders. I’ve also had some less competent bosses that I’d place in four broad characterizations and my suggestions on how to deal with these general traits.
The person who calls at 4:55pm just to make sure you’re still in the office. Stops by or contacts you near deadlines just to make sure the project is finished. Asks too many questions about too many things that really aren’t their worries. They like to meddle.
Suggestion: Give them access to your calendar or send regular updates of what you’re doing. Get projects done early and remind them you’ve never missed deadlines. Protect your staff and be evasive about personal information that isn’t directly related to the job or performance. Remember, it’s their insecurity not yours.
The leader that seems disinterested in your work or your contributions. Not really sure they could come up with one detail of your personal life. Not attentive to your activities or accomplishments.
Suggestion: If you’re a seasoned worker, just enjoy it and set your own goals or expectations and know you’ll have to find your own satisfaction for doing a good job. If you’re new to the work, ask a seasoned person to mentor you and have regular check-ins to talk about your progress.
Someone who feels a calling to the work and believes everyone should have the same level of calling. Impatient with those who don’t appear to be as committed. Beats you over the head with their devotion and how hard they work for good.
Suggestion: Remind them that people come to organizations for a variety of reasons and have interests, that are important, outside of the workplace. Wait for them implode or ignore the best you can, knowing that they do care about the organization. Even if too much at times.
Every decision is based on how it affects the person. Always put themselves above the needs of the organization and the individuals, wants the focus on them or their accomplishments. Not really interested in others’ input. Changes the structure, makes power plays, and interferes instead of moving the mission forward. Not above changing the facts in situations to serve their own perspective. Fake empathy for individuals and for the needs of the organization.
Tyler Reagin of Catalyst says that leadership is stewarding your field of influence. And that we all have areas we influence. I like that definition. That we aren’t all leaders in all things, but most of us have influence and can be leaders where we have influence. In those areas, we have the responsibility to be the best we can be.