Ever had one of those days where you woke up feeling really good, ready to take on the day ahead? As you travel to work you think about all the things you want to get into and feel energized to get started. And then you arrive at work and the whole day takes a turn for the worst. Your boss is in a bad mood and marches into your office ranting! It’s an unfair and biased attack, but you know better than to speak up. You feel shattered, and it’s not yet 9am.
As we all know, leaders have a position of enormous influence in any organisation. And when you work for an ‘authority’ leader who relies on their job title as a power play, it’s an uphill battle. But it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. “So how do I change them?” I hear you ask eagerly, anticipating a magic pill is about to be dispensed your way. Newsflash: You can’t change them. Have I just burst your bubble?
Read on though, because you can impact your response to your obstinate boss. Let’s look first at the mistakes you’re likely to be making that leave you feeling lacking any level of confidence in your own skills.
Mistake # 1 – You Take It Personally
The only thing that changed in your mood was what you made your boss’s rant mean. Your mind starts to tick over, and as you listen to your negative self-talk you begin to doubt yourself. You think that perhaps you aren’t good enough. Clearly, in your mind, your boss doesn’t believe in you, so why should you? You feel like there’s a sign on your head saying ‘liability’.
But what if the rant wasn’t about you at all? What if your boss was simply misinformed? What if your boss had a valid point? Here’s the kicker… what if it was about them and not you?
You see it’s likely that your boss is a dominant energy, a hunter and gatherer. This rant may only be a reflection of them unresourcefully meeting their need for significance and certainty. When they yell people go quiet and do what they say, and so they feel in control again. It’s not sustainable, but it helps them achieve their need in the moment. They’ve used their power to gain significance. It’s about them, not you. Try that on for size and see how it fits.
Mistake #2 – You Become A Victim Of Your Emotions
Who chooses how you feel? Seems a silly question given the answer is obviously ‘you’! However, sometimes we head below the line and give into being at effect of things that ‘happen to us’. We believe that ‘they made me feel like that’, when in reality it wasn’t them at all. You chose when you got up in the morning that you felt great, then you chose to change that emotion to feeling crappy. The good news? You can just as easily change it back.
Notice what emotions are coming up for you and explore why. Have you started to blame, justify or become a victim – all taking your personal power away? Or do you decide to take responsibility for your mood, to hold yourself accountable and own your choices? Tap back into how you felt first thing in the morning and reflect on:
- How you held your body
- Your facial expressions
- Your breathing
- Where you were focusing your thoughts
If you created your mood then through actions, then you can recreate it now by replicating what you did this morning. You saw how it worked, perhaps you could see yourself doing it again now?
Mistake #3 – You Lose Empathy
When we enter our own heads, we start to make everything about us. And by doing so, we take our focus away from others. At this point, we hit shaky ground because our world starts to shrink. When we truly care about others, the quality of our leadership improves.
Rather than make the rant all about you, be wildly curious about your boss. Behind the tone and the words, what is it they are really saying? If they did feel like they were losing control, how could you help them to regain it? If they were feeling insignificant, how could you give them significance? What’s really going on for them right now, and how can you best support them. Can you imagine how different you would feel if you were coming from a place of empathy and care for them? It would feel much better than unworthy and helpless, wouldn’t you agree?
How To Turn It Around
You don’t have to feel like your confidence has been robbed by an obstinate boss. Follow these tips and continue smashing out your day:
- Remove the emotion and remember that your boss is responding in their natural behavioural style, which could be very different to yours;
- Take on the attitude that you are at cause for everything that happens to you (even though you may not be, what if you just chose this belief?) and from this place, take responsibility, ownership and be accountable for your own feelings;
- Focus on others, be curious about what makes them tick, care for them and work out a way to support them.