"If you haven't worked for a weak boss yet, you will; and it's maddening because weak bosses are usually very likable.
- They're empathetic people.
- They're nice and friendly because they're people pleasers.
- They want everyone to be happy and they hate conflict, so they avoid it.
They got promoted into management because they're likable personalities. And they've survived and advanced by pleasing others, avoiding big setbacks and evading hard decisions.
- They don't tend to push back on their boss at all because they want to keep the boss happy.
- They avoid difficult issues because they hate conflict.
- They sugarcoat messages because they don't want to hurt feelings.
- They're always changing their minds because they listen to anybody.
- And they over-commit because they're well intended.
But now you work for them and you're pulling your hair out. So what do you do? Let's start with two things that you don't do...
- First, don't bitch about your boss. Your colleagues know their boss is weak too. But when you bitch with your peers, you lose your leadership clout and you expose a weakness in your own character.
- Don't just go along, either. When you resign yourself to the bosses flip-flopping and waffling and unrealistic expectations. You've quit on yourself and you've quit on your team. And you've let a weak leader make you into a weak leader.
So here's what you do:
- Embrace this as a leadership opportunity. This isn't the last time that you're going to work for a weak leader. So you want to get good at it?
- Then take the lead. By refusing to bitch with your peers, you've preserved your leadership clout. Now use it.
- Weak leaders are risk-averse people pleasers that avoid hard decisions. So get your peers together and align and dive into the tough issues. Set reasonable goals, have the tough discussions, and hammer out the hard decisions. And hammer out the details.
The best way to lead a weak manager is by doing it together as a group. But somebody has to lead the group. When you and your peers deal with a weak boss individually, you just enable and play to their weakness. So don't do it.
A weak boss is trying to keep everyone happy, so bring them a plan that everyone can live with.
A weak boss avoids tough decisions and unpleasant conversations, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't happen. You and your peers can work it out together. You don't need them. Just present your recommendations as a unified front.
And a weak boss fears failure, but when their team takes accountability, they tend to be much more confident. The leader tends to be much more confident because their team is willing to own the recommendations.
Weak leaders are good followers, but they tend to follow the path of least resistance. When there's a leadership void, you've got two choices. You can complain about it, or you can step up and fill that void. Remember, weak leaders tend to welcome leadership support. So take advantage of this opportunity, be a leader and provide that leadership support."
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