A number of people, including many leaders, are frustrated with their boss. Doug, a leader I coach, is typical of those who experienced this dissatisfaction.
Doug is exceptionally intelligent, good at his job, well liked and, overall, has pretty high emotional intelligence. But when he spoke about his boss, his eyes rolled, his face tightened, he became cynical and he lost his normal positive disposition.
Doug was really frustrated because he perceived that his boss, time and time again, didn’t:
- Acknowledge him for the results he created
- Consult him in his area of expertise, or
- Disclose to others that Doug was the originator of a good idea.
I noticed that when Doug spoke about his boss, it was Doug who became quite dysfunctional!
But enough about Doug—let’s shift our attention to you.
Even if your reactions were not as extreme as Doug’s, chances are that you’ve had experiences similar to Doug’s. So what can you do if you find yourself suffering from the “Doug Syndrome”?
Blaming Your Boss Isn’t A Fruitful Exercise
Regardless of the “facts” of the situation, regardless of who allegedly did what, as long as you’re condemning your boss by holding them responsible for the way you feel, you’re unlikely to get you what you want!
Furthermore, if you’ve taken an “I’m OK, you’re not OK” stance (as Doug did), you’ll be compelled to continue to blame your boss—so you can justify taking that position.
But this isn’t the way you want it to be, is it? You want the situation, this dynamic, to improve—right?
Fortunately, there is a straightforward and reliable panacea.
Check Where Your Finger’s Pointing!
As long as your “finger of blame” is pointing at your boss, your power to influence the situation is significantly diminished.
To facilitate change, to shift the behaviour of your boss, you need to ask yourself…
“What Would I Need To Do To…
- Have him/her acknowledge my efforts and my work?” or
- Have him/her consult me in my area of expertise?” or
- Give me the credit when I’m the originator of an idea?”
And that’s what Doug did!
As Doug asked himself “What would I need to do to get my boss to acknowledge my ideas as my ideas?” he accepted that it was Doug who needed to change for the situation to change.
And as soon as Doug, genuinely, got his pesky index finger to do a u-turn and point it in toward himself, he was able to stop blaming his boss.
Then, and only then, could Doug:
- Constructively answer his “what would I need to do…” question
- Change his perception of the situation
- Take responsibility for aligning expectations with his boss about each of the things on Doug’s “it’s not right” list
- Unemotionally and constructively, speak with his boss about those things.
Doug’s good news story can be your good news story too.
Your Leadership Call to Action
As soon as you notice that you’re blaming your boss, and therefore not intelligently managing upwards, will you:
- Attitudinally, get your pesky index finger to do a u-turn and point it inwards,and then…
- Ask yourself “What would I need to do to turn this around?”
You’ll notice that your brain is actually an amazing question-answering device. When you keep asking it the question, it’ll pretty quickly deliver you a workable answer. Problem solved!
Chances are you sometimes experience “the Doug syndrome” with other people, who aren’t your boss. The same remedial process will work for them too. Try it .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.