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Career With A Purpose 14.0: How to Deal With a Difficult Leader

How to Deal With a Difficult Leader

Career With A Purpose 14.0


So you have found a job you love. It fits your gifts, fuels your passion, and even meets your budgetary needs. That’s great! But nothing in life is perfect. And for some people the less than perfect issue could be a boss whose leadership style or personality makes the job more difficult. Perhaps through micromanaging, or insecurity, or simply inexperience, your boss is part of your personal daily challenge.

It is likely that few leaders wake up in the morning thinking they want to make life more difficult for their employees. They are just like everyone else, trying to do their best with the training they’ve had and the challenges on their plates.

The truth is…our greatest limitations are never the people or the circumstances around us. Our greatest limitations can be the attitudes within us. It helps to see that no matter how great or small our own leadership positions, our role in any organization is to add value. After all, that’s why we took the job.

In his book, the 360 Degree Leader, John C. Maxwell discusses how to work with an ineffective leader and be a positive influence on your team. Though it is typical to want to withdraw from a negative leader, doing so could potentially make an adversary of him or her. Instead, Maxwell advises finding common ground and building a solid professional relationship.

Maxwell and other business consultants also suggest noticing your boss’s strengths. Everyone has them. Even if they are not strengths you especially value, it’s important to note those strengths and realize their importance to the organization. Then, commit yourself to finding ways to maximize your leader’s gifts, so the department can function with the greatest effectiveness.

As you also note your leader’s weaknesses, realize this is a sensitive area. Do not point out weaknesses. However, when he or she broaches frustration with a part of the job he or she dislikes, you can be ready with a gentle suggestion (such as changing someone’s job description to fill perceived gaps or hiring someone who is good at that type of task). The point is freeing your boss (and ostensibly each person in your department) to do the thing he/she does best.

No one is good at everything. And it’s difficult for people to be effective where they have not had proper training or role modeling. So, as you discover resources that help you grow in your own career, consider sharing a helpful professional book or DVD with your boss. Of course, you want to share it with a sincere compliment, not a complaint. You might mention something you enjoyed about the resource and how it made you think of one of his/her best qualities.

Leadership at every level is difficult. You add far greater value than you know when you build relationships, augment the talents of others, and share valuable resources.

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