So you want a mentor? A Leader? A Coach? Someone to aspire to be, to lead the way, to shine a light on the grey foggy path ahead. Instead, you got Greg.
In your words ‘An egotistical, unaware idiot,’ that is spoken about with more destain than you knew possible, and to make it worse, you have to answer to him.
Good. Having a weak leader as a boss is a blessing.
To show this simply, let’s break down some of the relatively universal characteristics of a ‘Good’ Leader.
Humility. Ego oh Ego, we all have one, and when someone can’t see theirs, it is undeniable. Ego is insecurity showing itself, let them be arrogant, let them own all the wins, the people involved know who really brings the value to any situation. Long term this is all you need. Be Humble. Be Patient.
Problem Solving. They can’t figure out how to tie their shoe let alone solve a client’s problem? Great! Offer up your ideas as potential options for him/ her to implement. This gives you the opportunity to test your theories, use it, I bet you’re wrong more often than you think.
Trust. The best part about humans is we are relatively consistent. So what you can trust them to be, is untrustworthy. This means keeping them at arm’s length and knowing that if the time comes, yes, they will kick you in front of the boss, I mean bus. Good. You know its coming, make moves to mitigate the fallout.
Vision. They can’t figure out what to have for lunch, which means the idea of setting quarterly goals gives them a panic attack, Fan-bloody-tastic. You can start to set the path you feel your team/ company should walk down. Ever so slightly as you trudge at the front of the marching party, cutting down the weeds for your blind boss to follow, you lead them in the direction you want to go.
Emotional Intelligence. Which encompasses so much; positivity; communication; empathy & awareness. I place these all in one, as dealing with people is business, and so is leading. When you have a boss that is more robot than human it is the perfect opportunity to become the rock within your team, the unwavering support and the ear to hear the problems and offer solutions. This will place you at a critical intersection and make you a pillar for your team. Note, gossiping is not doing this, you must offer solutions.
Being Driven & Hardworking. Lazy? Oh, nothing better. You got especially lucky here. This is where you get to step up and take as much as humanly possible off of their plate and expect nothing in return, not even an ‘atta boy’ why? Two reasons, firstly you get to learn their role. Which prepares you for future promotions, this is valuable whether you see it now or not. Secondly, they will become to rely on you. Either bringing you with them when they get promoted or, giving them the confidence that you can take over when they move up.
Patience. Beat every deadline ever given to you and when they get frazzled and expect things to be done quicker than humanly possible, remain calm and execute. This is leading from the bottom up, you can’t tell people how to act, you set the example for others to follow. People that remain calm under pressure are contagious to be around.
Accountability. So shit rolls down the hill, everything is your fault? Good. The people above you will know it is their (the leaders) fault, not yours, the buck stops with the leader despite what people may have you think. For them to pass the buck onto you only destroys their credibility within the organization, so own it.
Confidence. You can’t imagine them crossing a four-way stop-sign intersection, let alone landing the job in the first place. Confidence is an infectious thing, and when someone makes us feel confident, we want them around… like all the fucking time. Become a fan of theirs, help build their confidence and they will associate you with that feeling that they so long for.
Yes, there are more traits that we would love in our leaders, however, the list above nails the main few. It is in their shortcomings that you can build a name and career for yourself within your company or team.
The key thing here isn’t what to do if you can’t trust your boss, or how to help clients when you have no guidance from above. It is your mentality toward your boss that needs to change. Like traffic, they aren’t going anywhere, they will be a constant at least for your immediate future.
Which means whining, complaining or not doing your job well, is the same as blaming traffic for your shitty results, your the only one that will lose. Take ownership of the situation, use their shortcomings as opportunities to learn and shine.
It is in this shift that you will build the habit that seeks opportunity and using every hurdle as a springboard, which will propel your career. While others are feeling sorry for themselves, you are moving forward. While others are looking for other jobs, you are moving up the ladder.
Having Richard Branson as a boss would be fantastic, for the rest of us dealing with mere mortals, see it as an opportunity, not a hindrance. A game, not a death sentence. It is in doing this that you solidify your own habits for growth.
… or, at the very least learn everything NOT to do. These are valuable lessons in themselves.
Two final notes:
#1 – A word of warning, the trick in doing all of this, in being the best team member and best subordinate they have ever had. Is to not outdo your boss. Ever. This is the sticky bit and the bit we struggle with so much, as our own ego’s need feeding.
If you are dealing with a self-righteous, egotistical arse, you can know with a high degree of certainty that your outdoing them will place a target squarely on your back. Be humble and play the long game.
#2 – No one has ever said you have to learn from the people you work directly for.
Go external, read books, pay coaches, use linked in and seek advice, offer yourself up to projects in other departments so you can see how they do it. People are great, they will and want to help.