According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte across 130 countries and over 7,000 participants, the number one global workforce trend is teamwork (Kaplan, Dollar, Melian, Van Durme, & Wong, 2016). Employees are expected to work more collaboratively than ever before, and according to Cross, Rebele, and Grant (2016), “collaboration is taking over the workplace” (p. 4), with employees and managers reporting at least a 50% increase in the amount of time spent on team-related tasks. Specifically, organizations are implementing networks of teams, whereby projects are assigned to groups of individuals who work interdependently, employ high levels of empowerment, communicate freely, and either disband following project completion or continue collaborating.Christina N. Lacerenza, et. al.
So you are working your way up the corporate ladder. You realize that your boss – a relatively new member of the “old boys club” – isn’t pulling his weight? What do you do? What can you do about it? How can you get him to pull up his socks?
However, truthfully, there may be nothing that you can do unless you already own an influence on your boss. Given the predicament, to move forward, accept this potentially fundamental limitation as a fact. Then consider a leadership perspective. Ask yourself, not how can I get my boss to change? Instead, how can I handle myself in this situation to show off my best attributes?
Demonstrate your best
Tip # 1 – Do not complain or attempt to manipulate the situation. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate how you best handle yourself in a challenging case. Other people are watching.
To show off your best attributes, you need to know what they are, and the answer is not technical ability. The strengths that compare, in this situation, are interpersonal—leadership skills.
If these were simple characteristics or behaviors to implement, you’d already been doing so. They are often shrouded in narrowly focused overconfidence. Either consult your Psychologist of choice or find a seasoned business coach who will work with you during this critical moment of truth. Hint: your process may begin with “leading by example.”
Focus on Your Relationships
Tip # 2 – At the core of all great leadership skills lies safe, healthy functioning relationships. Have them and thrive. Die without them.
Alliances – usually the type that has depth and meaning – provide a platform for all long-lasting success stories. Infuse strong leadership skills into your relationships. Hint: empathy can go a long way in developing these alliances.
Share your healthy vision for the future that benefits all concerned, not just the fortunate few at the top. Your efforts often impel a desire to be supportive and helpful from those around you once you have shared a vision for the greater good. Your boss may pick up on the vibe that they, too, better make some changes.
Communicate with Empathy
Tip # 3 – Once you have cultivated strong affiliations, your communication needs to be focused and purposeful. Utilize impeccable timing, strategic direction (I recommend having a leadership campaign for yourself), and an intention to improve authentic business relationships.
You can and should create your agenda by taking things just a step further. Focus on targeting specific people to get to know better or influence. Don’t be superficial in your attempts to capitalize on any opportunities. Demonstrate your allegiance to your underlying values for yourself and others.
Chiefly, my point regarding this dilemma concerns your effort. You will likely be more efficient & more influential because you have taken the time to nurture and cultivate mutually respectful relationships with others, including your boss. Communication is foundational in relationships. Leadership is not about controlling others, using force or manipulation to make them bend to your will. It is an opportunity to breathe life into the person you want to become. Cultivate and nurture your character and relationships, then merely observe and appreciate the power that others start to bequeath to you.
Passion means knowing your values.
Tip # 4 – “Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow” was clearly a seminal book by Marsha Sinetar in 1989. More recently, Stanford professor and author of “The Highest Goal” Michael Ray was reported to say, “Do what you love, love what you do.” That is good advice but not so easily implemented.
I advocate aligning our daily decisions with our values, spending more time developing our passions, and “following our bliss” (thank you very much, Joseph Campbell), but a word of caution. With high standards also comes risk. If you set them too high, you could easily find yourself alienated or unemployed. Nonetheless, I think we should strive and struggle with this end in mind and get our decision-making process as closely aligned with our highest values as possible.
Make Prudent Decisions
Tip # 5 – Although it can be nerve-racking not to go for more money and better perks, this may be the best advice I can share. Sure, saying yes to a promotion usually equates to more money, power, prestige, and swag in the short run, but also very often means forgoing flexibility, autonomy, creativity, and personal satisfaction. Align your decision with your most cherished values.
There are critical components to our success that lie just below the surface of our awareness and probably shouldn’t be overlooked if we are concerned about our careers and emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is the goo that makes life glide. Who said that our careers couldn’t be a luxurious experience?
Tip # 6 – Skill up when your job security is threatened. The current pandemic has so many people out of work it only makes sense to do whatever we can to hang on to what we’ve got. Making yourself indispensable is more valuable today than even a decade ago. With so many cuts still coming, be strategic; leadership coaching may bolster your soft skills so you can feel a little more secure in your position.