How do you handle a boss that leads by directive?

There are bosses who will strut around and issue directives. They have a huge fear of people and rely upon their dictatorial manner instead of learning how to make requests of others. Fearful leaders often make poor decisions because they are not open to others’ input and fail to learn how to talk with and through others to bridge gaps in ideas and create workable, practical solutions. As the employee or part of the executive team, help avoid troubling edicts by meeting the boss more than halfway. Provide ample facts and human solutions to persuade the decisions toward a more appropriate outcome.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

What have you effectively done to work with a dictatorial boss?

Handling Devious Company Foxes

“Foxes are devious—have you given one of them the keys to your office?”

Last Friday I had someone tweet me in response to the above posted caption. The person had given trust to another, and it turned out to be bad news. I’m sure many of you can personally and professionally relate to this experience. I know I can.

Unfortunately, foxes are devious and manipulative creatures. It’s simply their nature. But for people, being devious is often unconscious and based on fear of failure. The key is to become aware of devious people as quickly as possible by listening to your inner leader, or voice. Don’t second-guess yourself based upon your most recent interaction with the person, or your fear of not being strong enough to handle the situation.

Don’t immediately fire someone without conducting proper due diligence, stick your head in the sand hoping it will go away on its own, or jump into a new project, career, or job. These types of knee-jerk reactions will follow you.

First, look within to see what the life lesson is. Second, discuss the situation with your business advisor or executive coach for any additional insights. Now, make your decision and follow through on making the appropriate changes from a place of inner strength and leadership.

How have you successfully handled a fox in your company? How did it impact your career?

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Not Producing Intended Results?

Leaders often are perplexed when a project or plan is not working. Everyone wants to change the goal. The plan was created to achieve a specific goal; changing the goal is a strange way to produce those intended results! A compelling goal that is well-crafted requires commitment, focused actions and the right people. Too often the success of any team effort is contingent upon the leader’s people, project and profitability skills. Leaders often derail a team by failing to include others, building upon their ideas and staying focused on the ultimate goal of a profitable venture.

Difference of opinions. Many groups crash when they don’t take the time to effectively work through differences of opinions. Team members must be heard; otherwise, they can become trouble-makers! Productive discussions, sometimes seen as confrontational, are required to build better outcomes, uncover overlooked problems and build agreement.  Team leaders and members need to provide on-the-spot training to show others how to use persuasive listening skills to encourage everyone’s contributions.

Doomsday conspiracy. When people on a team are not committed to the plan designed to achieve the goal, or the goal itself, the project will fail, for either reason. A conspiracy of nay-sayers will evolve to rationalize their point of view when leaders don’t listen. Every member of the team has the responsibility for ensuring others’ concerns are addressed.  Many people view change as difficult, not necessary or are fearful of an unknown outcome. As the leader, it’s your role to facilitate actions and conversations to support the intended results, while positively impacting the bottom line, client relationships and a positive workplace.

What’s in it for me? Employees today want to know what’s in it for them. It’s important to provide insight into how their contributions are part of the solution. Start by sharing the situation or problem needing to be resolved, along with the proposed goal and plans to achieve the goal. If it impacts their potential bonuses and/or paychecks, share this in a positive manner. Honesty is key.  If they are not readily agreeable with the goal or project, they may be hearing it for the first time and need additional time to process it. Remember, you’ve been thinking about it for hours, days, or months!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Learn How to Work Well with Bad Bosses

I recently received an article in my Inbox from a business associate’s employee. It was about bosses being difficult (a nicer title than the actual one sent to me!). I, myself, have worked for bosses who truly understood the technical aspects of the job and industry, but did not know how to manage. I learned a lot from them. I’ve also worked for a couple who received their job title for reasons unknown. And I learned how to work with them to achieve needed results, too. In any company, there will be bosses who earn their title, while others happen to be in the right place at the wrong time. These bad bosses often exhibit poor communication styles, lack of organization or project skills and show favoritism.

The goal? It’s your job to learn how to work well with them in order to receive your paychecks, acquire job expertise, and support your own career aspirations. A career lesson to be learned. Otherwise, there’s an excellent chance your next boss will be the same with a different name!

A true story: a client was disparaging his boss, and his actions. He believed his co-workers felt the same way. One example was how this difficult boss distributed quarterly bonuses after completion of a major project. As his coach, I recommended he talk with the boss and clear up any misunderstandings. He did so very reluctantly and was happily amazed by the outcome! Not only did his boss stop sharpening the pencil, my client became known for his ability to work well with a difficult person. Other employees came to him for advice when dealing with this boss, and others. The President of the company acknowledged his executive growth and promised new opportunities in the future.

Hire your boss a coach. Obviously, this needs to be accomplished very diplomatically. Most bad bosses do not know another way to behave. They hate people challenges due to a lack of logic. They may become emotionally inept at handling these issues because of their own need to be liked. Maybe your boss takes the job more seriously, believes you and your co-workers should too, and is simply more demanding than others as a result. A good coach will help the boss see him- or herself objectively, develop more effective ways of interacting with others and develop people or project management skills to get results.

Eye of the Beholder. While you can always find others who will agree with your assessment of how bad the boss is, look for others who have a different perspective about the things your boss is doing well. Listen to them. Maybe s/he is fair in bonus distribution and allocating OT. Perhaps s/he offers great ideas and ensures you receive the credit for implementation. When dealing with more controversial concerns, handle the roadblocks provided by your boss in an assertive manner to resolve customer or project difficulties. Remember, your boss (and others) may find productive disagreements helpful and getting to the source of excuses beneficial in order to achieve required results consistently. Needing to be liked or overly nice does not equate with being effective.

It’s a process, not an event. It is natural for employees to expect an immediate difference and readily noticeable changes when a boss is advised of deficiencies. The reality? Bad habits take time to correct, regardless. For example, how long does it take someone to quit smoking cigarettes? It takes most people more than a few months, before it is deemed successful. So keep acknowledging any positive change. Hire yourself a coach to help you deal with your own life goals and interpersonal fears. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes when you learn to be patient with yourself and are effective at achieving your own goals. Your new awareness makes it easier for others to get along with you!

©Jeannette Seibly, 2012

Jeannette Seibly is a Business Advisor and has successfully coached 1000’s of business owners and executives to be successful leaders while growing their businesses. Three of them became millionaires!

Working with an Egocentric Boss

Yikes! Many of us have had to work with self-centered leaders. Some find a way. Unfortunately, many employees or co-workers who are unable to develop a good working relationship simply leave. Others, even though they find their jobs dissatisfying, stay too long. This type of boss can easily thwart the clarity and fulfillment of the company’s goals. S/he can unwittingly create legal ramifications (e.g., bad decisions, perceived discrimination, etc.), but taking a legal approach rarely makes a positive difference for anyone. Being a bad boss or leader isn’t illegal!

We conducted a short survey, and those participants who had experienced working with egocentric bosses told us these leaders had a greater tendency to transfer blame, yet accept the credit for others’ accomplishments! They were perceived to be highly manipulative and made poor decisions that created additional problems for the organization or clients.  Men were described as callous, immature, emotional and bullies, while women were described as back stabbers and “b’s.”

Employees and co-workers say this type of leader avoids talking straight and being honest. S/he doesn’t respect others. They continue voicing opposing points of view or belittling others with differing opinions, even after everyone else moved on. These bosses fail to listen to both sides of an issue before making their decisions. They tend to value secrecy, avoid others and pit people against one other, causing high turnover and mistrust throughout the company.

Here are five ways to help you work with them:

Don’t Label Them. We label their behavior and attitudes (e.g., no integrity, “b,” etc.) and expect them to readily understand our frustration. Many times we do this to vent. Unfortunately, it rarely makes a difference. Instead, use this approach: Describe the issue by telling a story or sharing an example with them, or your mentor. Keep it simple. Be patient and be a parrot (repetition of points).

Give Up False Beliefs. You can’t fix and change them. It’s a fact. There are no magic words or methods to transform these types of bosses, or any boss who is perceived as bad. They have to really, really, really want it, for any change to happen! Acceptance that they are the way they are will reduce your stress and may allow you to more effectively work with them.

Practice Your Presentation. During your preparation, have someone play devil’s advocate. It reduces your anxiety and allows you to be calmer and clear when you make your presentation. As you would do with any boss, good or bad, be sure to provide information in the manner they understand best (e.g., graphs, written descriptions, pictures, stats, etc.). Also, you may need to hire your own coach to either learn how to respectfully yet confidently assert your point (even if you realize it could cost you your job) or how to leave if the situation warrants it.

Provide Meeting Agendas. Be certain to follow that agenda. Take great meeting minutes and distribute within 48 hours of the meeting. When you are required to provide ideas or recommendations during a meeting, ask for others’ input. This is critical if the boss is being dismissive of your contributions. Unfortunately, this type of management style makes it difficult for a team to provide critical input, particularly, if it wasn’t his/her idea first. Often outside guidance on how to fulfill the company’s strategic goals is required to help navigate the company’s growth.

Hire An Outside Coach. It allows the egocentric boss to hear other ideas without losing any sense of power. Make this suggestion to your boss, or have someone who has influence recommend this to him/her. The right coach makes a positive and profound difference. While most bosses have management styles that can be improved, suggestions and coaching to facilitate that improvement needs to come from a respected source, preferably outside the company.

There can be a silver lining:  One Director hated his boss, a VP. Everyone else found the VP difficult to work with too (aka egocentric).  Under the guidance of his coach, the Director had a conversation to clear the air with the VP. He started treating his boss with more respect. Very quickly he became viewed as one of very few people who could work well with this VP. Others began to come to him for guidance. As a result, the President saw this profound difference and offered the Director a lucrative opportunity.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2011