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  • Writer's pictureAdil Malia

Understand your Boss

Was addressing a Socialite Club gathering on 'Life & Realities in the Corporate'. The 'spirited' group conspired & veered to argue that all problems were caused by 'bad bosses'. In a way, I wanted to agree for that is life. But the topic covered 'reality' as well and thus I told them as I share ...

Like or Dislike .... you have to learn to manage upwards. Your boss is pivotal to your success generally and your failure, occasionally.

Firstly to acknowledge ... your boss has been successful in reaching the position which you have not as yet. Surely, he has something. Like it or disagree. More experience, generally more knowledge, bigger network, more power, more information and a lot more serendipity by his side ! You could leverage all of that to your advantage by getting into your learner mode. The converse is true as well. You could self deprive yourself of all this and keep yourself away from these opportunities, if you prefer to indulge in avoidable confrontation.

Unfortunately, much as one realises, this at times ends up becoming an uneasy relationship as there is an inherent duplicity in this role. Accepting boss as a Coach means revealing all your shortcoming to him so that development can happen, on the one hand. The same boss is also the Evaluator. One realises vulnerability of the situation and thus indulges in displaying only strengths and not shortcomings for fear of negative evaluation - classic 'Approach-Approach' conflict.

'Boss' being a power symbol of Institutional power, sometimes one tends to see the imagery of ones past boss also in ones new boss and this adds to unwanted 'drag-baggage' to the new power relationship. Re-check and ensure that this is not happening to you. You may be imaging a good boss as a bad boss.

A few tips to help you perceive this critical 'work-life' relationship positively:

  • Closely observe your boss and his work-style, decision style, data requirement, his preferences and his foibles. Ensure that when you transact with your boss, your behaviour reflects his desirable insights.

  • Be clear about your bosses strengths. Everyone knows his bosses weaknesses. I suggest that you invest time in knowing his strengths so that you clearly know your own learning agenda from him and praise him (read appreciate) accordingly..

  • Invest in knowing the kind of vagaries and preassures that your boss is under from his boss or from the Board. Often times the preassure you experience is deflected preassure. A bad boss generally has a bad boss. At least that way, you will explain to yourself his behaviours.

  • His expectations from you in terms of your delivery to his performance has to be congruent and matching. Not what you give but what he receives matters more. Not the efforts you put in but his actual dependence on you for the actual results he delivers, matter.

  • Matching your behaviours and your style to his 'mind-model' of his team supporters is critical. That should not be read to mean you subjugate yourself to your bosses whims and fancies.

I would advise you to redraw your mind-map when it comes to gaining career value from this relationship. Be supportive, collaborative and sincerly, for your own good, avoid becoming his evaluator. Learn to gain self value from this relationship

You may still have the bad-luck of working for a 'Problem' boss. Blame bad karma, if you like. In my next post I will suggest how to deal with them.

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