Frustrating Leaders

Sometimes people get the mistaken impression that the person they work for is not the brightest bulb on the tree. They think their boss may be a card or two short of a full deck. Perhaps they are not the sharpest knife in the set. 

Whatever clichéd insult they choose to use they are almost certainly mistaken. 

When we’re frustrated by the leaders above us in our organization we need to realize that somebody saw something in them. That is why they are in a leadership position. We need to look (sometimes we need to look hard) to discover for ourselves what their strengths are. Then we need to help them maximize their strengths. 

The best way to do that is to use our strengths to fill their gaps. You’re likely already well aware of those gaps. You’ve been complaining about them to anyone who would listen. You allow the gaps of the people above you to ruin your productivity and wreck your attitude. 

You let the shortcomings, both real and imagined, of the people above you in your organization have way more influence on your life than you should. You allow your frustrations to carry over to your personal life and impact those people most important to you. 

Stop that. Stop that because stopping that is completely within your control. When you decide to stop allowing other people’s possible shortcomings to frustrate you then you also decide to have a happier, more productive life. And career. 

When you use your strengths and skills to close some of the gaps of the people above you then you allow them to use their strengths to the best of their ability. Imagine the difference that can make for your organization, for your boss, and especially for you. 

I’m not as naïve as some of you might think. I know that sometimes people get promoted into leadership positions despite having some substantial gaps. Maybe it was nepotism, maybe it was knee pads, but whatever the case they are where they are at so deal with it. Professionally!

You were hired to do a job. You agreed to do that job for a certain level of compensation. If that level of compensation is being met then you have an obligation to do your job and to do it to the best of your ability. 

Allowing yourself to be frustrated by the leader above you negatively impacts your ability to do your job. Sharing those frustrations with co-workers negatively impacts their ability to do their jobs. 

None of that helps anyone. If you have a boss you struggle with then talk to them about it. Ask how you can help them eliminate the source of your frustration. As United States President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.” (Okay, I know he said country instead of company but you get the point)

Understand that your level of frustration is not determined by how frustrating someone else may be. It is determined but how much frustration you’re willing to allow into your life. 

I’d suggest you allow none!

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month people can follow a part of my Twitter steam that is for subscribers only. It features primarily short videos of me talking about the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page. http://twitter.com/leadtoday (You may need to refresh the page to see the Super Follow Button) Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does. 

Not Every Leader Leads – Part Two

In my last post we talked about following an ineffective leader. We also discussed working through the frustration that comes with that situation. 

 

If you can manage to work through the frustration and lead yourself you are way ahead of most people. Too many people spend their days wallowing in their lack of leadership. They should be focused on leading themselves to success. 

 

If you have the leadership skills to deal with the frustration of following a leader who doesn’t lead then it’s likely you also have the leadership skills to “lead up” in your organization.

 

Leading up is the second part of the process for overcoming the lack of leadership when you’re working with a leader who doesn’t lead. Here’s the thing about “leading up” in your organization; while it is absolutely necessary when your leader isn’t leading it is also beneficial when your leader is already an effective leader.

 

If you’re a leader at any level in your organization then you should be adding value to everything and everyone you have contact with. I know it can seem counterintuitive to help people succeed at some cost to your own success but that’s Authentic Leadership. If you can help anyone then you should help them. It is the right thing to do. While it may feel as if you’re potentially costing yourself a promotion or raise by helping other people look good you’re not.  

 

Doing the right thing is never wrong. 

 

So, let’s talk about the “how to” of leading up. First before you can lead anyone else you must lead yourself. Allowing the frustrations of your position or job to dominate your thoughts and actions is not leading yourself. 

 

You must maintain control over your emotions because failing to do so will have a huge negative affect over your attitude. When it comes to influencing those around you, especially those above you in your organization, attitude is everything. If you can’t control your emotions then you won’t control your attitude. 

 

To lead up in your organization you need to remove as much work as possible from your leader. That will inevitably mean doing more than what’s in your job description. It will frequently mean doing it will little or no recognition, at least for you. Trust the fact that someone notices your effort. Even in the very unlikely event that no one does you can take pride in your efforts because you will have done what’s right. 

 

Leading up requires that you have the ability to say no to your leader. Whether your leader is an effective leader or something less than effective they need someone in their sphere of influence who has the courage to tell them the truth. Sometimes that will mean telling them what they don’t what to hear. If you’re going to lead up you’ll need to find a tactful way to do that. 

 

Leading up also means doing the things that others are unwilling to do. Anyone can do the easy stuff; leaders who lead up tackle the tough jobs that other people avoid. Making a difference for the people above you, or anywhere in your organization, will sometimes mean sacrificing your personal objectives for the sake of others. It may mean working with people you would prefer not to work with. But leading up teaches you tenacity and resiliency that people unwilling to lead up with never know. 

 

The reality is that there are people in leadership positions all around the world who don’t actually lead. If you find yourself being “led” by one of those don’t allow your attitude to be impacted by the lack of leadership.

 

Choose to control your emotions. Choose to lead up in your organization. Make the choice to have a positive impact on those who could have a negative impact on you. 


All is takes is a decision to LeadToday!


Not Every Leader Leads – Part One

Most people reading this will have at one time or another worked for someone who is in a leadership position but doesn’t lead. Maybe you’re in that spot right now. 

 

So what does a person do when their leader doesn’t lead? 

 

There are three choices. The first one is to change where you work. Running from the problem is too easy and besides, there are no guarantees that your leader at the next place will be any better.

 

The second option is to spend every working minute, and sadly many non-working minutes as well, being frustrated with the person who is supposed to be leading you to success. That ruins your relationship with that person. Let’s not forget, just because they are a bad leader doesn’t mean they don’t have some influence on your future. Being frustrated and complaining about it all the time can also wreck other important relationships in your life. 

 

Friends may stand with you at first but after a while they begin to wonder why you don’t do something about it and they begin to drift away from you. Eventually your family may even follow them out of your life. 

 

I do not recommend the second option. 

 

The third option is the only one of benefit to you. It also has the advantage of benefiting the person who is supposedly leading you and it even benefits your organization. 

 

It’s a two-step process.

 

The first step is dealing with the frustration. You can’t will it away. You must meet it head on and take concrete action to minimize it. I say minimize because you can’t ever completely eliminate it (at least I never met anyone who could) but you can make it manageable. 

 

Dealing with the frustration requires that you understand it’s not your job to “fix” your leader. It’s also not your job to point out all of their weaknesses. Your job is to add value to everyone you come into contract with, that includes your leader. 

 

To do that you need to build a good working relationship with your leader. Look for things you have in common and try to identify their strengths. DO NOT say they have no strengths, some will be easier to find than others but everyone has strengths. Clearly somebody saw something in that person because they were placed in a leadership position. Try hard to see those same strengths yourself. 

 

Next, figure out ways to help your leader use their strengths more effectively. Do that while filling in whatever gaps they may have with your own strengths. Yes, you may need to sacrifice your own ego to do this but that’s better than beating your head against the wall in frustration all day long.

 

You need to take some pride in what you’re doing. It might seem on the surface that helping your leader succeed and look good is backwards. But if you’re a leader yourself you’ll have no problem doing just that. You are helping another person grow and that is the essence of leadership. 


In my next post we’ll look at the second half of the process. It’s the part where you “lead-up” and use your influence to help your leader grow even more. The cool part of that is when you help grow the people above you in an organization you’re helping yourself grow at the same time.