Wouldn’t it be nice if every leader were a joy to work for? Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Leaders are human, and regardless of how talented they are, every leader has flaws—and some of those shortcomings will drive even the best employees to leave the organization.
Leaders who lack humility and act as though they know it all are especially difficult to work for. Employees want to know that their ideas will be listened to and that their unique contributions to the organization will be recognized. People also need the opportunity to develop themselves by offering new ideas and solving problems on their own.
Some leaders have hot tempers. A huge part of leadership is the ability to set the tone for the team when things go wrong or people are working under intense pressure. During challenging times, it’s a lot easier to work for someone who remains calm in the eye of the storm. Yet there are some leaders who respond with outright aggression and vocal frustration.
Then there are those leaders who seem to change direction without warning. While they may have been silently evaluating the situation for a while, failing to communicate the reasons for the change can cause significant stress for employees. People often find it difficult to accept a sudden reverse in direction if they are not involved in the decision or made aware of the reasons for the change.
Put it into Practice
The key to managing a volatile relationship with your boss is to manage your own response. We can’t control others, but we can control how we react to the situation.
First and foremost, recognize that you are frustrated by your boss’ behavior. Rather than generalizing about him or her as a person, try to identify what, specifically, it is that your boss has done to cause you concern.
Respect the hierarchy present in the relationship. Ultimately, your manager has the power to make decisions that you must support. If you are going to ask questions, offer feedback, or make a specific request, make sure you understand all the facts beforehand. You’ll also want to wait to engage in this conversation until you can remain calm and objective, even in the face of adversity.
Many volatile leaders are uncomfortable being challenged. If you have not had a conversation with your leader about how you can best work together, you may want to begin with a one-on-one discussion.
During your meeting, ask your leader how he or she would like to be approached in situations where you disagree or need more information.
When you need support, seek out a trusted mentor, coach, or human-resources professional. Organizations are beginning to realize that volatile leaders can greatly disrupt the morale and productivity of a team, which can have a tremendous negative impact on the business.
CMOE has worked with many organizations to create a plan, coach volatile leaders, and rebuild relationships to improve team performance. Contact CMOE to learn more about how we can help you.