Problems with being the boss’s pet
“My boss supports whatever I do” David blurted out with a deep sense of accomplishment for being the boss’s pet!
In a previous article, you read about how dysfunctional leaders operate.
When I first met David (name changed), he was the mid-level manager in an MNC. David is someone who dreams big, works hard and gets things done. David’s boss loves him because David makes his department look good in the eyes of the bigger bosses, even the CEO. The boss likes him and delegates most of his work to him and goes off to play golf. David loves the attention, trust, and praise from his boss. Craving for the pat on the back, he works hard, putting in a lot of hours and keeping his team focussed and productive. It sounds like David is an effective executive.
The problem is the way in which David gets things done. He takes care of the needs of his direct reports, his direct boss and the bigger bosses. No one else in the organization matters to him. He decides on what his boss wants and will bulldoze his way to get things done.
If anyone disagrees with him or creates roadblocks, he will reach out to his boss, or even the big boss, leveraging their power and influence to get what he wants. Most of the time, the big boss responds in kind because of David’s passion, persistence, and enthusiasm. After all, David is the person who understands and articulates the company vision. He can be relied upon to get things done. He has built a reputation as the go-to-person and a go-getter.
What are the problems here for David and others like him?
- By rushing to achieve tasks at all costs, David forgets the golden rule of Relation before the transaction (See the previous article Why does the tea lady give me 10% discount) He steps on many toes, hurts peers and damages relationships for the long term. Instead of being eager for contribution, his peers wait for retribution. Remember:
Relation before transaction.
- It is great to have power and have access to extra power. But use your power rarely and wisely. When David overleverages his access to the higher powers to get what he wants, he is looking for shortcuts instead of dealing, debating, discussing, negotiating, influencing and resolving disagreements with his peers directly. While he seems to be winning, he is losing opportunities to build lasting authentic influence and strong working relationships with colleagues.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. By relying on the influence and aircover of the boss, David is running a huge risk. What if his boss gets fired in the next round of restructuring? How will you operate if you have to work with a new boss in the same organization? How will your previous reputation affect your next assignment? If you are in this situation, you need to not only change behaviors, you will also need to change the perceptions based on your past behaviors. Your current role and your current boss may not survive for long. (Read more about this in a previous article: Before Your Company Stops Loving YOU)
Think about this. Even Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded. Your boss is not immune.
- By taking the short road to get what he wants, David incurs long term costs. The higher you go, focus less on tasks and more on people skills. Learn to influence and find ways to work with others who do not agree with you. Get them on your side. Build allies. Dig wells and build bridges long before you need them. Work as a team and build your reputation as a leader and influencer.
It is important to build trust and a strong working relationship with your boss, but be aware of the costs of becoming his/her personal pet — knowingly or unknowingly.
Once David became aware of his behavior and blindspots through executive coaching, he rushed to make immediate amends and realized he had more influence than he originally imagined. He controlled his emotions, managed his boss’s expectations, embraced difficult conversations, respected the challenges his colleagues faced and worked with them as a team to achieve the organization’s goals. He started speaking up for the needs of his team and others. He reinvented himself as a more effective executive who can get things done and build strong relationships. He was later reassigned to a newly formed department, where he spent more time on people than tasks and a few years later stepped into the C-suite.
Do you know someone who survives only because they are the boss’s pet? What behavior patterns have you observed? What advice would you give them? What would you recommend them to do differently?
Call To Action:
Here are some questions to reflect on.
- What are the behaviors that are hindering you from progressing to the next level? What have you done to upgrade your confidence and competence?
- What have you done to identify your blindspots? What are you doing to address them?
- What are the perceptions others have about you? What are you doing to change these perceptions for your benefit?
- How good are you to get others to accept your ideas and influence their decisions?
- Will you be considered for your boss’s job? Will you be seen as the ideal choice? If are keen to upgrade your competence and confidence, behavior and perceptions, join the Next Level Leadership Readiness Program and breakthrough to the next level of your career.
Manoj Vasudevan is an internationally renowned Next Level Leadership Readiness expert, management consultant, and the World Champion of Public Speaking. He helps executives and entrepreneurs to break through to the Next Level in career, business, and life. Manoj is known for his expertise in simplifying complex topics into practical strategies. He is the CEO of Thought Expressions and holds an MBA from Imperial College, London. His books include the international bestseller Mastering Leadership The Mousetrap Way. and How to become the World Champion of Public Speaking. He speaks at international conferences, multinational companies, universities, and around the world. As a coach, Manoj has proven track-record in personal transformation and breakthroughs. CEOs, Senior Executives, UN Diplomats, Celebrities & Professionals from more than 34 nationalities have benefited from Manoj’s coaching. To contact the author’s team, click here.