If you have a bad boss who is underperforming, instead of throwing up your hands, take these actions to position yourself for great success anyway.
People all over the country reach out to Phil Van Hooser seeking advice on how to handle issues in their workplace. Hundreds of questions have been asked of Phil over the years. Questions like: “What is the best way to give negative feedback to one of my employees?” “When is it safe to hand over large responsibilities to emerging leaders?” “How do I connect with young people in my company?”
Because the questions have been coming in at a fast pace recently, Phil and I decided to publicly answer the FAQs of our clients. Today we are tackling a popular issue: “I have a really bad boss, what should I do?”
After completing Phil’s year-long Emerging Leaders training course, I had a pretty good idea how he would answer this question — and I know Phil’s answer works. As someone who has experienced an underperforming boss, I have put Phil’s advice into practice myself and I’ve seen the positive repercussions from doing so. I am excited for you to learn it, too!
How to Overcome a Bad Boss
Last week we sat down and dug into today’s topic. Here is Phil’s response — advice you can trust — on how to handle an underperforming, bad boss:
This may be one of the toughest jobs of all. When you’re looking to a leader who is not leading effectively or you’re looking to a boss who’s not instructing, coaching, teaching, and supporting appropriately, what do you do?
Well, this is not necessarily a popular concept, but I’m a proponent for working twice as hard, not half as hard.
“Work twice as hard, not half as hard.”
In other words, if your boss is not doing what you think he or she needs to do as your leader, instead of throwing up your hands, instead of going off into a corner and sulking, you have to forge ahead; you have to work harder.
Sometimes you’ve got to do it in a very direct way. You have to go to your boss and say, “Boss, what specifically do you need me to do? Boss, what I can be doing next to help you? Boss, what can I do that will take us to that next level?”
Or sometimes you have to do it indirectly. You have to look around, you’ve got to read the tea leaves, and say, “What’s lacking here is communication, so I need to improve my communication. What’s lacking here is follow-through, so I need to be sure and follow through. What’s lacking here is a clear understanding of what the next step in the process is, so I need to make sure everybody is telling me what they want me to do so that I could do that to the highest level.”
The key here for the individual who’s having to work through an underperforming boss, is to remember: if you work twice as hard — not half as hard — on a high level and on a consistent basis — other people will see it.
“If you do these things on a high level and on a consistent basis, other people will see it.”
Unfortunately, high performing leaders sometimes get overlooked because that’s what’s expected of them. But the converse of that, low or underperforming leaders can’t hide, and so everybody — people above them, people at their level, and, of course, the people beneath them, their subordinates — know they are underperforming.
In that situation, as a subordinate to a poor leader, you now have an opportunity to perform at a high level and other people will see you and see your professionalism surface, even in light of what they know is not sufficient leadership. Great leaders do the right thing, the hard things, that others could have done, should have done, but chose not to do.
“Great leaders do the right thing, the hard things, that others could have done, should have done, but chose not to do.”
No matter what kind of boss you have, you hold the power to blaze your own path to success. (For more on that, check this out from Phil: Growing from Employee to Leader: 6 Levels of Empowerment).
If you have questions regarding your professional career that you would like Phil’s advice on, please comment below or send me a private email email@example.com.
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