We always believe that managers who inspire and empower their teams are good bosses. Working with them is fun. They also focus on the development of the team. High performance is expected easily while working with such inspirational leaders. However, working with a difficult manager is always challenging. Generally, you can’t choose your manager. You have to work with the manager who is assigned to you and you can’t complain or change the manager unless you change the job. Changing the job frequently is also not a good sign. Sometimes organizations are good, and your role is super, but the challenge may be the manager. What you do if you get a difficult boss. There are different types of difficult bosses. Perhaps you may not be willing to work with the toxic boss who is political, takes the credit, micromanages or bullying. It is good to be strong with such bosses.
However difficult bosses are not always bad. We may perceive managers as difficult if they are demanding, result oriented, perfectionist and with a lot of expectations. They are always on your head. So first it is very important to understand the personality of the boss. Ironically, a bad boss can motivate members of a team to bond with each other and provide encouragement and assistance since they know that they won’t be receiving positive attention from their superior.
One of the facts is that executives get developed while working with the difficult boss also. Of course, your development chances are more when you work with a highly competent and talented boss. But not necessarily, you will always get the inspiring boss. Sometimes you will have those managers in your life. If you find out the silver lining, you can convert the situation into an opportunity for learning.
Jay A. Conger and Allan H Church have written a book, “The High Potential’s Advantage.” These two gentlemen have written this book after a lot of research of high potentials who are in leadership positions. This book mentions one of the traits of high potential is “Situation Sensing: means observing and responding to the task priorities, work styles, habits and behaviours that your boss values most.” In the case of a difficult boss, it is tricky. If the values of the boss don't match then it is a big conflict. However, it is good to identify the traits and behaviours of a difficult boss and decide the strategy to deal with. If you think that the value system, code of conduct and business principles are compromised, then you can take the appropriate call to escalate it at appropriate forums including whistle-blower. If your boss is just difficult because of his strong work habits, his behaviour is aggressive and certain traits are different than yours or inspirational boss to whom you role model, then it is good to have the discussion and learn from him. He may have his own perspective, he may not be aware, he may lack insight and you can help him to understand that.
While dealing with a difficult boss, you get the opportunity to stretch yourself. You may learn:
- Understanding human beings. You may get a different insight of the personality.
- Learning to deal with difficult people,
- Communication skills while dealing with such people,
- Conflict management as conflicts might be common,
- Understanding the socio-political dimensions of the team and organization,
In the career you will not get only amiable peers, team and bosses. Sometimes you will have challenges and wise people learn to deal with that. It is always good to find the silver lining and adapt to the management style suitable to the difficult boss.
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(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)