How Do You Lead When Your Boss Can’t

We’ve all had them or met them: dismissive, insensitive, controlling, absent, volatile, or mean bosses who lack vision, compassion, or purpose.

People who suck the energy out of the room.

Here’s a few suggestions for dealing with difficult people:

  1. Embrace the situation. When you’re invested with people, you are going to be frustrated from time to time. It’s okay not to feel okay. Be sure you have a trusted support system in your life so you are aren’t going through this alone.
  2. See the opportunity. Every person has something to teach us, so before you do anything, ask why this person is in your life at this time.
  3. Be careful of labels. Maybe they aren’t a bad boss. Maybe they simply don’t meet your expectations. There’s a huge difference between violating the values of an organization and just being unpleasant.
  4. Be compassionate. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Empathy gets you further than criticism.
  5. Be courageous. If they are violating the values of your organization, it must be directly addressed – courageously and compassionately.
  6. Create your own vision. Rather than waiting for others to change (never a good leadership strategy), establish your own reason for coming to work that inspires you and serves the greater good.
  7. Give what you expect. Life is a mirror. What you give is reflected back to you. Instead of complaining you aren’t appreciated or valued, get so busy appreciating and valuing those around you that you don’t have time to complain.
  8. Know where the exit is. The first thing a flight attendant tells you is where the exits are. You don’t focus on them, but knowing your values means that exiting is always an option as a last resort. Remember also that your boss is not the only person who is your source of validation.