Tips for being successful, when working with a disengaged boss

Tips for being successful, when working with a disengaged boss

Your leader’s primary role is to be the strong base for your success support system, right?  I mean, the very definition of a leader is to engage and inspire, while achieving organizational goals through the efforts of the team.  So,what happens to you and your teammates when you have a disengaged boss? In my experience, it doesn’t take much time for things to fall apart.

The boss may be disengaged due to incompetence (which really means they aren’t cut-out for leadership), lack of self-development, complacency, or some other reason, but it is always frustrating, confusing, and conflict-inducing.  It can be a recipe for disaster – for both of you.

If you are in this situation now, I feel your pain. One of my early bosses spent much more time focusing on what direction staples were facing, and what color file folders and ink were being used, than communication, process, skill development, or organizational goals.

The following are easy to implement suggestions for being your best, even when your boss is the worst. Please note!  These suggestions are not intended to stand alone, nor are they “one time and you’re done” behaviors. They are meant to be incorporated into your “this is who I am” practice:

  1. Model the core values and personal accountability you would like to see in a boss.
    1. It may help to use your experience with a former “best boss” as a model. If you don’t have one, seek out another leader to emulate.
  2. Resist the urge to join the bandwagon of complainers and whiners.
    1. If you are already on it, jump-off-now! Being on that wagon will hurt you, as well as accentuate and perpetuate the negative issues.
  3. Be a problem solver who communicates effectively.
    1. Proactively engage your boss in clarifying discussions and follow-up with written confirmation.
      1. Be sure to include defined action items, timelines, and measures of success for you, your disengaged boss, and other relevant stakeholders.
      2. Request approval to share the information with others who may be impacted, need-to-know, or should offer input into your decisions.
    2. This is important and delicate: Engage your boss’ leader with a problem-solving, objective intention and demeanor. Seek advice with authentic concern for your individual success, as well as your boss’ and organizational success.
      1. This is not a venting session, nor should it be intended or received as an “I want to get rid of my boss” discussion. Focus on what is within your authority and accountability, while demonstrating your ability to see the big picture.
  4. Continue to give your best, while contributing to the success of others.
    1. See #1.

Wondering what happened with me and my frustrating, disengaged boss?  Well, I practiced what I preach for a year; moved to another section for a year; got promoted, and ended up being her boss for the next four years. She was an outstanding contributor and informal leader, just not cut-out to be “the” leader. We accomplished great things, with the role-reversal, and continue to keep in touch more than 10 years later.

When channeled well, conflict always equals opportunity! Call us today to learn more about being your best, even during the most frustrating times.