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By Darryl Stewart

What to do if you feel your boss is holding you back

Most of us were brought up to wait:  wait for a good, generous, engaging, tasteful, smart boss to tell us what to do.

One way to handle it when this does not happen is to blame the system, blame the boss, and blame the world.  If the boss doesn’t see or understand your insight, that’s his fault. You are here to serve, and if they don’t get it, well, that’s too bad for all concerned.

What you might consider: Lead up.

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Photo by Yogendra Joshi cc

A great manager gets great team performance because she deserves it. One of the ways that she became a great manager was by leading her team to make their own good decisions, to do things on their own initiative, to have the confidence to do what they think is right and the guidance to be right almost all the time.  That doesn’t happen randomly. It happens when someone leads up.

A successful middle manager gets promoted when she takes the right amount of initiative, defers the right amount of credit and orchestrates success. That success might happen despite (not because of) who her bosses are, and that’s just fine, because she’s leading up.

We have an astonishing amount of freedom at work. Not just the freedom to call meetings, make phone calls and pitch ideas, but yes, the freedom to quit, to find a new gig, to pick the work we’re going to take on and to decide how we’re going to deal with a request from someone who seems to have far more power than we do. “Yes, sir” is one possible answer, but so is leading from below, creating a reputation and an environment where the people around you are transformed into the bosses you deserve.

When you do this with intention, it gets easier and easier. From afar, it seems impossible, and it will be until you commit to it.

  • Do it on purpose
  • Tell stories that resonate with those in charge
  • Demand responsibility, don’t worry about authority
  • Reflect credit, embrace blame
  • Earn the right by taking small steps
  • Convene, organize, learn, teach and lay the foundation
  • If they don’t get it, go somewhere that does, regardless of the fee

Shout out to my new friends at Community Living Essex.  Thanks for hosting Engage! last week.

This blog was inspired by and heavily borrowed from a blog by Seth Godin

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.