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!

When Your Boss is a Knucklehead

I, like many people have had the great misfortune of working for someone who just wasn’t very smart. 

Or so I thought. 

The truth is, I had the great misfortune of thinking I was working for someone who wasn’t very smart. It took me longer than it should have to realize that someone higher up in the organization had the ability to see my boss’s strengths, an ability that I had yet to develop.

The thought that you are working for someone who is not as smart, skilled or as effective as you are only leads to frustration and it’s not the boss who is frustrated, it’s you.

So stop frustrating yourself by focusing on your boss’s weakness. Understand that so long as your boss is human they will have their share of shortcomings. Understand as well that so long as your boss is human they will likely possess unique strengths that add value to your organization. 

To limit your frustration find and focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. 

It could also be that you are in fact smarter than your boss but they may possess a quality or characteristic that you lack. Be honest with yourself; it’s unlikely that you are truly perfect and completely devoid of skill or ability gaps. It’s possible that you’re missing a quality or characteristic that your boss’s boss believes is vital for your organization. Learn what you can from your boss to determine your personal development opportunities. It’s nice to have a boss that helps you develop but it’s actually your responsibility to develop yourself, don’t expect others to do it for you.

Lead up! If your boss indeed has “gaps” then accept it as your responsibility to fill those gaps. It could be that you were hired for that very purpose. If your boss is a good leader they likely identified their own gaps and hired you to do what they couldn’t. If that’s the case then being frustrated with your boss’s inability to do everything you can is just counterproductive and downright silly.

If none of this makes any sense to you then it’s possible that your boss is truly a knucklehead. If that’s the case perhaps you should consider making a move to greener pastures. But don’t consider it for long, either move or be quiet and do your job. Don’t, do not, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, hang around and become a disruptive negative force in your organization by constantly complaining about your boss. Move along, you can do better.

One more thing….if you at your third or fourth job and in every case your boss is a knucklehead then perhaps you should take a look at what (or who) all those jobs have in common. I’d suggest you start by looking in the mirror. 

You may not like what you see but at least you will see the real source of most knucklehead bosses. I know that’s harsh but one hard look could make every other look a whole lot easier.