How to Survive a Terrible, User Boss

I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but approach this temporary situation in your life well, and you’re in the best leadership training program money can’t buy.

Observe your jerky boss’ actions and the impact.
Repeat.
Keep your comments to yourself.
Repeat (the hardest part.)
Seek out role models of better leadership.
Repeat.
Try some.
Refine.
Repeat.
Keep your boss informed of your progress.
Take a deep breath and thank her for her support.
Repeat.
Repeat.
Watch the A players flock to be on your team.
Ask them for their ideas.
Repeat.
Develop a strong network of peer relationships.
Repeat… go deeper this time.
Be as helpful as possible.
Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.
Address performance issues of the stragglers–set a higher standard (don’t skip this part or you’re just a nice guy, not a leader). 
Repeat.
Notice improved behaviors.
Repeat.
Ask for what you need.
Repeat.
Recognize upward trends.
Repeat.
Thank your boss for his support.

On a Double Dutch Tight Rope: Your New Boss and You

Over my career, I’ve underestimated the need to adapt well to a new boss more than once. Trust me, it’s harder to recover… but doable.

Working for a new boss often feels like a tight rope. If you’ve got a new boss, you may be experiencing that nauseous feeling that comes from walking a fine line. That’s good. You need to be paying attention.

My best advice for teams and new bosses? Try switching up the metaphor. View the tight rope as a Double Dutch jump rope instead, and you’ll be a lot more productive, successful, and save yourself a heck of a lot of time.

False Security

If you’re the welcoming committee, it’s easy to assume that life will continue as usual. After all, you’re making progress and your old boss was happy. Of course she put in a good word. (Even if she did, it’s likely not enough.) Here’s how to  take it up a level–to find a higher gear.

If you’re the new boss you likely feel the same way. You’ve seen this movie before in a different theater. You know what works, and after all, they brought you here for a reason… this team needs help.

The biggest problem I see with folks welcoming the new boss is that they believe they’re the ones with the well-cadenced jump rope and it’s the boss should adapt. They’ve got this and can’t wait to show ’em how good they are.

The biggest mistake I see new bosses make is ignoring that the intact cadence has value, and slowing down enough to notice the magic.

So here’s my advice for jump-ropers on both sides of the cadence.

Consider your next boss-team switch-a-roo like hopping into a jump rope game already in play. You’ve got to watch a few turns before rushing in, otherwise you’re going to get smacked in the face.

A Few Guidelines

Pay attention to how others are interfacing, and what seems to excite her or drive him crazy. Learn from the mistakes of others.

When jumping into a spinning scene, stop and notice. Who’s in control? Are there subtle moves causing even the best players to trip?

Ask questions. Not tons of “How do I do this ?” questions, but strategic questions like “How can I be most helpful?’ “What’s the best way to communicate with you?” “How do you like your coffee?” (Just kidding.)

Understand the Need for Data  This is where I see many style conflicts get most into trouble. Trying to win an analytical boss (or team) over with an emotional argument will make you lose credibility—fast. Similarly, overwhelming a big picture thinker with a ream of spreadsheets may leave them with the impression you’re “Just not that strategic.”

Some additional thoughts that will help

How to PERSUADE your boss (goes both ways) 

The DARN method:  How to give your boss bad news (could go both ways, but many bosses struggle with this) 

And of course there’s my book: Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss You can read the latest review by Jane Anderson here.

And the keynote, Becoming the Boss You Wish You Had.

Call me. I can help. 443-750-1249.

The Biggest Networking Mistake

Sarah (not her real name) had just received a kick-in-the-gut career wake up call – the kind we all pray never happens. She had 60-days to find something new. Perhaps it was her fault, perhaps not. These situations are prickly. The grapevine was buzzing with rumors when what she needed was connections.

“Do you want me to take a look at your LinkedIn profile?” I offered. I didn’t want to overstep my bounds, but also felt compassion for an old colleague. Silence. “I don’t have one,” she admitted.

Not wanting to discourage, I tried another angle. “What professional contacts do you have outside the company?”

More silence. She had invested long and deep in her networking at work. She had mentors and sponsors, but such networks are tightly woven, and can unravel 27 times faster than they took to build.

Sarah was suffering from the networking mistake I see repeated over and over again across generations and industries: waiting to build a network until you “need it.”

There’s power in building your network without intention.

The Power of “Just Because” Networking

The most powerful networking tool is quite simple. Just show up and genuinely help everyone you can in as many circles as possible. Not because they can help you now, or even some day – but because you’re a human being and you have something to offer another human being. That’s it.

Call it karma, call it common sense. It works.

Yesterday, I received three calls out of the blue from folks I had helped, or connections of folks I had helped.

None of these relationships were started because I thought they could help me some day. On the surface, all of these loose ties had less “position” power than me.

As it turns out, two of the three will lead to cool opportunities that have the magical feeling of “falling from the sky.” The third was from an executive recruiter with an enormous offer that would have been highly attractive had I not just quit my day job to pursue my dream.

She had heard about me because good people know good people. I hadn’t talked to that good person who mentioned my name for years, and what I had done for her was very small. Guess who I referred that recruiter to? Yup, a good person who helps others just because.

JUST BECAUSE NETWORKINGTips For Just Because Networking

  • Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.
  • Accept all LinkedIn invitations (unless they’re really creepy: Side rant – LinkedIn is not a dating service).
  • Offer to help first.
  • Never ask for help on the first connection.
  • Plant bulbs of support everywhere. Just because you can.

Thanks to LGL community member Larry Coppenrath for creating the visual of today’s post.

How Well Do You Manage Up? A Challenge and Other Tools

The conversation about Imperfect Bosses continues. Today, I’m exited to bring you several additional resources, including a free knowledge assessment. I hope you will share this with anyone having a challenging relationship with their boss.

Overcoming An Imperfect Boss Credspark Challenge:

How well do you manage up? How are you handling a difficult boss? Why does it all matter? Take this challenge to find out. The most useful part is clicking on the learn more links at the end to take you to additional free resources. Let me know what you think and please pass along. I want to help as many people as possible. Click here to take the challenge.

Overcoming An Imperfect Boss podcast on Work That Matters:

In this live interview we delve deeper into some of the concepts and stories discussed in the book. Click here to hear the podcast.

How to deal with an accidental diminisher boss:

And for those who just like to read, check out my 4 Needed Shifts in the Traditional Boss Subordinate Relationship:

From Mystery To Transparency: Your team will follow your lead. If you won’t share what’s on your heart and mind neither will they. You’re wasting valuable time with all that guessing. Take some risks and let your team in. Share more of the bigger picture than feels “safe.” There’s no better way to get people to trust you, than to trust them. Click here to read more.

And Wally Bock – learning about writing a book from Overcoming An Imperfect Boss:

Karin Hurt is a newly minted entrepreneur. She wrote Overcoming an Imperfect Boss because “I wanted to be able to have something tangible to weave into the PR of the launch of my new company.” If you’re thinking about writing a book, you can learn a lot from what Karin did right. You may read more here.

Happy Memorial Day. That should give you enough to keep you busy. Still got time? Download a free sample chapter or just order a copy from Amazon.

Namaste.

What Experts are Saying About Career Advice: May Frontline Festival

For May’s Frontline Festival, I asked experts around the world to share their best career advice. It’s amazing how consistent the ideas are across cultures and contexts. Thanks to all the contributors. This great graphic below is from Joy and Tom Gurthrie, Vizwerx Group. Follow Joy @VizwerxGroup

careers rarely just about the job copy

Holding Career Conversations

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation brings us Career Conversations: Leaders, Are You Getting It Right. Jennifer encourages leaders to give some thought to career conversations they have with their team. Too little thought and planning can lead to not only an unproductive meeting, but potential loss of a star performer. Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller.

James Ryan of Soft Skills For Hard Jobs brings us The Simplest Way To Advance Your Career – Talk Conversations about career advancement between employers and the employees don’t happen as often as they should. It’s not that difficult, just talk. Follow Ryan @jryan48.

Critical Career Skills

early career successDan McCarthy of Great Leadership brings us a timeless list of great advice in his post 15 Timeless Work Habits For Career Success. Let’s say one of your kids just graduated college and they are about to start their first real job. If they ask you how to be successful at work – what would you tell them? Or, you’re asked to be a mentor to a high potential up and comer. They ask you for your best advice on how to get ahead. Follow Dan @greatleadership.

Steve Broe of My Career Impact brings us Five Ways To Get Your Boss To Call You A Leader. Act like a leader in these five ways and your boss will come to value your largest potential contribution to the enterprise. Follow Steve @DrSteveBroe.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ at Smart SenseAbilities offers Career Success: Are You Rocking With These 13 People Skills. People skills make your occupational expertise understandable and valuable to others. Think yours are good enough to lead, collaborate, and bring you career success? Try these 13 tips from The People Skills Coach™ to take you even further. Follow Kate @KateNasser.

Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online, offers What Do Tough Times Say About You?. It’s one thing to have a bad day, yet another to fall on tough times. These are the times that show what you’re made of. What do tough times say about you? Follow Frank @FSonnenberg

Willy Steiner of the Coach’s Corner shares Managing Change For Your Number One Client – You. Take an in depth look at how change impacts us, and how to use these perspectives to assist us in working through the inevitable changes that will impact our jobs and lives. Follow Willy @coachforexecs.

Ali Anani, one of the most frequent commenters in our LGL community, shares his Slideshare model, Phenomena: Race Strategy. This is a four blocks-based strategy, the acronym of which is RACE. Great concepts to build improve the performance of your team or your career. Follow Ali @Alinanani15.

Jeff Essenhaus of The Faithful Pacesetters offers Finding The Diamonds. This blog post looks back to Samuel (Prophet and Judge) to learn how current day leaders can find and develop future leaders. Samuel’s key warning as he appointed King’s was to find leaders that are able to hold themselves accountable to the people. Follow Jeff @JeffJayMiller.

Bill Benoist of Leadership Heart Coaching brings us Interviewing Tip: Like My Music. Great practical advice on how to nail your next interview. Follow Bill @leadershipheart.

Career Advancement

David Dye of Trailblaze offers 7 Warning Signs You Should Not Lead. Are you up for a promotion? David shares seven reasons you should consider NOT taking the job…or else do some serious reflection before you do. And if you’re already there, see if any of these warning signs apply to you – #5 gets all of us. Follow David @davidmdye.

Lisa Kohn of the Thoughtful Leaders Blog writes on a similar theme in her post Should You Be A Manager. She shares necessary traits and talents that great managers possess. The good news – these talents and traits can be developed if companies invest in their would-be managers with coaching and developmental plans. Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Mark Miller of Great Leaders Serve shares Is Your Leadership Career Stalled. This blog takes a look at why careers stall and a few questions you can ask yourself to get your career back in gear and moving forward again. Follow Mark @LeadersServe.

Working on Yourself

warmatnight.jpgJulie Winkle Giulioni of juliewinklegiulioni.com offers Growth: It’s No Longer Optional. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, growth is no longer optional; it’s non-negotiable.Follow Julie @juliewg.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares The Examined Life. Socrates said that “the un-examined life is not worth living.” Here are some resources to help with your examination. Follow Wally @wallybock.

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly shares Seek Criticism In Order To Improve Yourself. If you are not seeking criticism then you are not stretching yourself and are not looking for ways to improve. Criticism can help you develop skills that are lacking or improve upon your strong points. Follow Chantal @CBechervaise.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire-CS   shares Feeling The Pain & Doing It Anyway. It takes courage to work on you. But the best leaders will feel the pain and move forward to become great leaders. Follow Mary Jo @mjasmus.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding offers Growth Doesn’t Just Happen and 5 Tips For Changing That On A Budget. Yes it is possible to be heavily invested in growing yourself and those you serve – even if the training budget has dried up and blown away. Botom Line: Growing or not is a choice. Follow Chery @GianaConsulting.

Julie Pierce of Empowered By Pierce asks us How Will You Invest in Your Leadership This Year? Follow Julie @julie_pierce.

New to the festival, Steve Borek of End Game Business, shares How Did You Get Into Coaching. Steve shares his personal journey and advice for people who feel like they’ve hit a dead-end and are ready for a new challenge. Follow Steve @SteveBorek.

Michelle Pallas of Blog & Fireside Chat reminds us to Seek Advice, Listen & Reflect – But Do What’s Right For You. Allow time and energy to explore. Play helps us craft a vision and realize dreams. Visualize your future, otherwise you may get caught up in someone else’s vision. That may be ok, but choose deliberately. Follow Michelle @MichellePallas.

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com brings us the challenging post I Can’t Afford To Lose This Job. Have you ever worked in an environment so toxic, you just knew you had to get out, but couldn’t because you have no network? This post shows You what to do. Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

 June’s Frontline Festival is all about change and transformation. If you want to be a part, submit your post by clicking here.

Missy Franklin: The Cincinnatus of the Olympics (a guest post from Greg Marcus)

My favorite character from Latin class was Cincinnatus – he was a farmer who became Dictator to lead the Roman army against invaders, and then returned to his farming life after the war. The fame and glory did not prevent him from continuing to be who he wanted to be, and he willingly gave up almost absolute power to return to a simple life. Cincinnatus was revered as an exemplar of civic virtue, someone willing to work for the greater good without accumulating personal wealth and power.

“I am pleased to present a guest post from Greg Marcus.

After ten years as a scientist, and ten years as a marketer, Greg Marcus, Ph.D. is a stay-at-home dad and author. If you are interested in more of his writing you can find it by clicking here, or you can find him on linked in.  Greg reminds us of the constant choices we make as we pursue our dreams, and balance them with the rest of our lives”

Missy Franklin is not a general, but a swimmer on the US Olympic team. Unlike many Olympians, she elected not to leave home and move to a training center to work with a high-powered coach. She stayed with her childhood coach, and in fact turned down endorsement deals to maintain eligibility for her high school swim team.

I think its safe to say along the way, some thought her crazy for not making the most of her talent by moving to California, swimming full-time, and getting the best coach available. But Franklin showed that a move to the next level of achievement does not require sacrificing who we are, or the people in our life. And I strongly suspect that without her family, Franklin could not have achieved what she achieved.

Franklin won four gold medals and one bronze, in London, second only to Michael Phelps in total medals. Now, Franklin is faced with a choice – does she go back to the life she had, swimming for her high school team and then on to college, or does she take advantage of the millions of dollars in endorsement deals that she could get as an Olympic Champion? For now, she is leaning towards college because she says that is what will make her a happy girl, but she will consider all the options. It’s a real dilemma.

One of these choices represents a once in a lifetime opportunity.