We often think that wielding power and leading are synonymous. It might be most proper to say that wielding power is one type of influence. But it is far from the only. In fact, it is far from the best.
One of the toughest of life’s dynamics is a boss to an employee. The boss may or may not lead well, but they certainly have power. They have the ability to make life really tough for the employee. Plus there is this mutual understanding that the boss is where they are for a reason, the ambassador of the company’s mission, and generally the one who needs to be listened to.
But your boss isn’t perfect (may be preaching to the choir here). He or she needs to be led just as much as you do. They need to be influenced. And you are just the one for the job! Here is how:
One of our students at the college we work at recently defined leadership as “modeling the mission”. The job of your boss is to activate their employees to accomplish the mission of the organization.
You can lead your boss by taking ownership of your part to play in the mission. The truth is, in a healthy company culture, you and your boss are partners. You are both working to achieve the mission of the organization.
We dilute the mission of the workplace into something like “make the boss happy”. What a boss really wants is to help accomplish the mission. Even if you have a terrible boss who is not pursing the mission of the organization. You will influence the way he or she thinks about the organization based on the way you behave. Anyone in leadership has felt the nervousness of leading a meeting or hosting a presentation. We have this false idea that our bosses have “made it”. But, most of them are just as insecure and neurotic as the rest of us.
Your boss is like the rest of us. They look at truth as an acquired taste. They hide and try to ferret out hiding employees.
Lead your boss by taking ownership of your mistakes. Name the truth of situations. Even say the hard things to your boss (gently) if they need to hear some feedback others are not giving.
We are all a little afraid of the truth. We’re afraid it will expose and then swallow us. By taking on the truth, you show courage and insight. And the boss, who is supposed to be modeling the mission more than anyone, sees a higher bar is being set. Don’t try to usurp or shame or embarrass the boss. Be the best version of yourself. And it will affect the best version of others.