I had the opportunity during the last week to work closely with a couple of handfuls of Emerging Leaders, who are on a fast growth trajectory and still learning how to master the skills of management and leadership. I noticed a theme this week among my clients, they almost all seemed to be struggling at times with feedback from their direct managers. The theme was that they were frustrated with what they considered unwarranted criticism from their boss, a lack of time and attention received from their boss, or a difficult time having to justify their priorities to their boss. Needless to say, we could sum this theme up by saying it was a week of frustrations and frictions between some Emerging Leaders and their bosses.
Understand And Empathize:
I found myself covering the same ground a few times during these conversations. My advice for Emerging Leaders is this. Understand that your boss usually is having the same sorts of opportunities and challenges that you are, they are simply happening at a higher level in the organization. Do you have time management struggles? Guess what, so does your boss. Do you have to explain yourself two or three times before your boss understands what you’re trying to accomplish? Guess what, so does your boss. Do you feel like you’re being misunderstood from time to time? Guess what, so does your boss. Realize that you’re in this TOGETHER. Empathize with how difficult your boss’s job is and align tightly with them to help them to manage the opportunities and challenges better. It’s likely that your boss will return the favor.
Expect Some Confusion And Skepticism:
If business was easy, companies wouldn’t need managers and leaders. The whole idea behind having managers and leaders in place is that human beings struggle to organize and stay coordinated in business naturally. Hence, we need managers to make decisions about priorities and how to assign teams and resources to seize the opportunities and to deal effectively with the challenges. Because businesses are complex and confusing, we need leaders to help the people on the team have clear instructions on what to do, when to do it, how to do it, who to work with to make it happen, and so on. Go into each business day expecting some challenges, some confusion, and some skepticism. When it arrives, be ready to deal with it effectively by being well prepared for it personally. Furthermore, you will go a long way toward proactivity by preparing your entire team to expect some confusion and adversity as well.
Back to handling your collaboration with your boss. Anticipate what your boss is going to do during the workweek. Bosses, like everyone else, tend to be creatures of habit, and their behavior patterns are highly predictable. If you anticipate how your boss is going to react and interact with you during the week, you can be prepared to handle your reactions like a well-oiled machine. It’s always best to think first before acting, isn’t it? I recommend that you start acting like a Chess Master at work. Be thinking ahead and be planning your next 2 or 3 moves, before you’re on the clock. Be thinking about what your boss is likely to do during the coming week and be prepared to position your decisions, actions, and communications in ways that position your brand for success.
Find Your Voice And Speak Truth To Power:
If you’re like most of my Emerging Leader clients, you’re occasionally going to disagree with your manager about how to handle something in your area of responsibility. I’ve noticed that far too often, Emerging Leaders are very reluctant to do what is best for the business. They’re reluctant to say what needs to be said to their boss. Understand, your boss isn’t stupid, they’re just swamped. They’re overloaded and overburdened at times, just like you and me. So, when you believe the best in your boss, and you understand that your job is to say what needs to be said, you can do it. It’s also your responsibility to do what is best for the business, so you must step up and say or do the right things. Every time. Stop worrying about the consequences and stop worrying about being punished for speaking up or doing what you believe in. In my experience, people don’t often get fired for telling the truth and doing the right things. That’s what you are being paid to bring to the business, your best efforts, and your most open, candid observations. Just be a pro in how you do it.
So, what’s your impression? Should Emerging Leaders step up? Should they confidently say what they need to say and do what they need to do? Should they expect some confusion and challenges and try to proactively prepare for and plan for adversity while having a plan to overwhelm it? I’d love to hear your comments… please, add one to this blog…
Michael is an award-winning Executive Development Coach and Business Advisor. He is the founder and CEO of Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, a business advisory firm with offices in Minnesota and Arizona. MBCC works with Business Owners, CEOs, their C-Suite Executive Teams, and their Emerging Leaders to help them to develop exceptional Leadership abilities. One of the most vital Leadership abilities a leader will need is the confidence to speak up about the issues you see in the business. In addition, you must confidently do the right things in the business without fearing reprisal from your boss. Once the boss understands why you acted, they typically support you, if you’re doing what’s best for the team and best for the business. If you’d like a free Best Practices document on Managing Up With Your Boss, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to sign up for our monthly email information service and tap into valuable free information from Michael and his coaches every month!