When we talk about building better workplaces, many people think it is about turning everything on its head and starting a revolution. And while that might get quick results, there is usually a lot of damage in the wake so I am not a proponent of that thinking. A better way is to start an evolution.
For example, what if you’re not a manager or leader in the organization and have a boss you don’t like or don’t respect or who you think shouldn’t be in their role and they are making the workplace a misery? How do you start the evolution to a better workplace?
This is a pretty common issue that demonstrates the fact that leadership isn’t always something that is top down, many, many times it’s bottom up.
Now, as with many things, the answer is easy but doing it can be very hard. And the answer, put simply, is you need to help your boss succeed. Now don’t go running out yelling and laughing that this is crazy. Hear me out.
This is really about leadership but it is tough because it requires you to diminish your ego. It requires you to push your self-importance out of the way. How is this leadership though?
By taking the tack of helping someone else succeed and demonstrating best behaviors, you are leading by example. Helping others and showing respect, even when the other is not necessarily being respectful back, is true leadership behavior.
So what are some things you can do? Here are a couple of ideas.
- Use coaching techniques to be helpful. For example, when a problem arises, ask your boss if they’ve seen a problem like this before. Then ask them what they think the best solution is rather than snapping into advice mode and trying to push your thinking on them. If they hem and haw a bit, ask them if you can make a suggestion. They may say no but they may say yes. Either way, you are remaining respectful and demonstrating leadership.
- Where you know far more about something than your boss, try this. Ask them if they are familiar with the “thing” whether it’s a piece of gear or a report or whatever. Then, let them know that you want to help them in case they ever have to use the “thing.” In other words, you want to show it to them so that they can be successful – not so you can show your superiority with your amazing knowledge and experience.
Keep in mind, the ultimate objective is not your success or their success, it’s the success of the organization, team, or unit, and having internal struggle defeats that purpose. In addition, you cannot win this struggle so fighting it is pointless. The best thing you can do is to get out front and lead the way by taking the high road of respect and service – and by service I don’t mean servant, I mean helping another person succeed.
So, you don’t like, respect, or think your boss is the right person for the job? That’s fine, just don’t be a jerk, be a help. Be a leader, make your boss look good and help them succeed. Start the evolution to a better workplace by leading it not fighting it.
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