In response to the post, “Problems with the Boss,” a reader writes:
“SC, this is all great advice, but how do you proceed with something if your boss never gives you a straight answer? Or, any time you ask about the same thing, it is always a different answer? Or, it is an ‘I don’t know, let me get back to you’?”
The first thing you have to realize in this case is that you are dealing with a manager, not a leader. Managers avoid decisions and perceived risk. Leaders take calculated risks and make decisions.
Working for a manager can work to your advantage if you remember a couple of things.
1. Don’t present the manager with a choice of options. Provide your manager with one solution and a significant pitfall if the solution isn’t implemented.
2. Quit asking and start doing.
3. Make sure your results are beyond reproach.
4. Frame everything in terms of benefits for students.
5. Learn to beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission.
I once worked for a “classic” manager. It was good for my career. As long as my decisions made her look good, she didn’t want to know any details (thus no blame for her if the decision failed). I focused on student success, her boss recognized what I was doing, and both me and my students won.
There is a caveat. Working for a manager will eventually suck the passion out of your work. Keep your eyes open for a leader whose team you can join. You will probably work harder, but the accomplishment and sense of purpose will be worth it. Work is always work, but who you work for can determine if you feel like you going somewhere or simply treading water.
Think. Work. Achieve.