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"My Boss Doesn't Get It!"

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What do you need to have at work to be fully engaged?

What do you need to have at work to be fully engaged?
"My Boss Doesn't Get It!"

Getting the Boss to Buy In

Q: I have read Ordinary Greatness and I believe in the concepts but my boss just doesn’t get it, and sees no value in being visible, communicating, and spotting ordinary greatness among staff. What do I do?

A: This is a question that we are often asked. Unfortunately, there are still leaders who, despite having read books and gained knowledge, just do not seem to get it.

Here are our suggestions: First of all, keep in mind that people can change. None of us were born practicing these leadership behaviors. We have all had mentors and role models who showed us how we would have to change. Stay positive regarding your boss. Keep control of your emotions. Do not let frustration or hatefulness enter the picture. After that, ask yourself whether you are doing everything that you can, and for which you do not need permission, to find and develop ordinary greatness. Some people, when they see the boss not buying in, get frustrated, and say, “When the boss does it, then I will. When the boss is visible, then I will be. When the boss recognizes me for my great work, then I will recognize my staff. ” This is just about the worst approach, for now we have two leaders who are not following through, and the negative impact on staff is at least doubled. Are you doing everything in your zone of responsibility you can to promote ordinary greatness? If your boss did buy in, how would you behave differently? Remember, you are responsible for your outcomes. Are you being visible? Are you recognizing? Are you spotting ordinary greatness in your staff? You probably do not need the boss’s permission to be positive, remove blinders, and have aspirational conversations with staff. It is difficult, but take ownership. Hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? But the hard things are where the greatest learning occurs. We often tell our clients to overrule their instincts. Who do you not want to talk to? This is probably who you should talk to today. What task do you not want to do? This is probably what you should do first. It is difficult, but take ownership.

Do you believe that your ultimate outcomes in life are externally determined — “I came from a certain family, I got the right job?” Or do you believe that how your life turns out is ultimately up to you, that despite all the things that happen, you are ultimately responsible for your outcomes? Next, remember it is possible to lead your boss. It may be incumbent on you to teach your boss how to spot ordinary greatness. Those of us with children know that our kids have taught us some great lessons. What lessons will you teach your boss? Here are some practical tips for teaching your boss how to spot ordinary greatness:

  • Invite your boss to tour the work area with you, engaging staff along the way.
  • Every Friday, before you leave for home, send the boss an e – mail or voicemail telling him the greatest thing that your employees did that week, along with a recommended time to stop by and thank them.
  • If you have a meeting with your boss coming up, tell your staff and ask them if there is anything they would like to pass along.

Caution: Do not “throw your boss under the bus ” to staff. Avoid making negative comments about your boss in front of your staff. While this might feel like you are fitting in with staff at that moment, you are only undermining your own leadership.

  • Finally, if your boss will not change, and the situation becomes untenable, you might have to find a new boss. Life is too short and our window to make a difference too small to waste time with those who will never match our worldview and values. You might wind up being more successful somewhere else, but we have seen that many leaders do not have to take that step.