INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership) • We often have a fear of change because of what we fear we’ll lose due to the change – our identity, a sense of security or familiarity, connections, etc. Our aversion to loss can cause logic to fly out the window. This is why research shows that gamblers at a horse track are most likely to bet the long shots, at terrible odds, on the last race of the day. They’re faced with the realization of loss and are willing to bet on a horse with 20:1 odds, a bet they’d never walk in thinking they’d make – all because of our natural and violent aversion to loss. It causes us to make poor decisions. Don’t let fear of change cloud your judgment. Instead, think of change as a personal software upgrade. And if you’re in a position where you must lead sudden change, try this course:
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake I’ve made) • Research shows one of the surest ways for leaders to destroy the sense of meaning employees derive from their work is to kill the sense of ownership they feel for their work. I learned early in my career that you kill feelings of ownership when you shift people off of projects before they’ve completed them. I used to shuffle people’s projects in a misguided belief that it would keep everyone energized. Nope. You also destroy a sense of ownership by changing goals too frequently, by jumping in too soon to “help,” by doing too much for employees, and, most of all, by micromanaging. Never forget this truth: micromanaging crushes souls, not goals.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool) • To cope with a bad boss, try the 5 Commandments of Coping: 1) Realize this too shall pass. Everyone has a bad boss from time to time – successful people manage through it. Be reflective, not emotional, about the situation.
2) Know that no one person defines you. Your boss might take away some joy, but they can never take away your values and efforts to be the best version of yourself.
3) Don’t shrink, or shirk. Don’t back down to a bad boss. Stand your ground with confidence and calm. And don’t shirk your responsibility for trying to improve the relationship. That might mean you have to do 80% (or more) of the relationship building work – no one said it was fair.
4) Resist the temptation to label. Once you’ve categorized your boss as horrible, evil, etc., you’re more likely to dismiss their better points and unfairly categorize their messy points. Applying labels makes you jump to conclusions about their actions and makes you close-minded. Try thinking of the bad boss as a difficult client you simply must work with and seek to understand the why behind their behavior.
5) Learn to read his/her moods and identify triggers – then adjust accordingly.