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How does one teach (or convince) a boss to be a leader? Login/Join 
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Picture of vthoky
posted
A long, long time ago, I worked in a grocery store. It was there that I learned the difference between a boss and a manger. Better stated: I learned the difference between a boss and a leader.

The man who held the Manager title was an older fellow (old to me at the time, that is). He'd give us a pile of work to do, expect us to go do it, and come grouch at us when we hadn't gotten it done. The man who held the Assistant Manager was a bit younger (probably 40 at the time... maybe). He'd give us a pile of work to do, expect us to go do it, and come help us when we didn't get it finished. On snowy days, he would be right there with us, bringing in carts or mopping the floor. A number of nights he was there helping us get the shelves restocked. He was, in my mind, a manager -- a leader.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I'm way beyond college and well into a good career. There are two individuals in my organization who are definitely bosses, and definitely not leaders. Recognize that statement is my opinion, but I'm not the only one in the place with that opinion. One of them may not matter much, as we're told retirement comes in October. A self-solving problem, almost.

The other is straight-up control hound. Pat (yes, a pseudonym) was put into an "operations management" role a year or so ago, and is full-on power hungry. Increasingly, every decision has to be run across Pat's desk. I learned today that Pat has demanded to see every purchase request (despite that we have a purchasing team and a purchasing manager). It's always I/me/my with Pat, never "we." This has gotten to the point that one of our team even went to the general manager (Number One in the house) and asked which of them actually "wears the pants" in the organization. Probably not a cool move, but I can't deny the question needed to be asked.

I could rant for a while and give tons of examples, but it all boils down to the fact that Pat is clearly a boss, and not at all a leader. Pat runs on the "management by fear" premise, constantly threatening disciplinary action, even for the smallest of mistakes. Increasingly, our team members are downtrodden and disheartened, largely because of Pat's crummy management style. It's Pat's way or the highway.

I know that changing people or changing people's behaviors are among the hardest things in the world to do. But short of ridding the organization of Pat, how do we turn this lemon into lemonade? How do you get a hardened boss to change his ways? What we need from Pat is more teamwork -- as in, let your crew actually do what they're trained to do, and don't micromanage them; trust people to do what's right and necessary, and get out of their way so they can do it. Stop constantly threatening everyone on the team (150 or so of us) with "disciplinary action." Stop adding work to the teams that are understaffed, and stop denying those teams help.

I don't have "high enough authority" to walk into Pat's office and give a big "cut that crap out" lecture, so I have to learn how to influence a change in other ways. Obviously I could call/write/email "up the chain," but that's indirect and often just looks like sour grapes.

I need some guidance, my invisible friends.




God bless America.
 
Posts: 10104 | Location: Hokie Nation! | Registered: July 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I have a very particular
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^^You are correct - there's a wide divide between a manager/supervisor and a real-deal leader. Corp. America is full of appointed/promoted managers, often put in the positions for reasons other than leadership ability.

A real leader often doesn't need the formal title at all.

The difference - and this is the key - a leader INSPIRES. Any jacka$$ given some superfluous title...the 'executive vice assistant to the VP of the handrail cooling system'...can tell people what to do. A leader motivates them to want to do something (at least to some degree).

A really, really good leader invests in others so they learn and develop, and in turn become leaders as well.

Unfortunately, current 'professional' environments have effectively 'neutered' many leaders. And leaders often face obstacles as they are working for non-leaders who don't respond well to 'constructive criticism'...they just want people to 'do what they're told.'


Ultimately, one has to lead by example, or they're not leading at all. If they're not willing to do so, they will likely never really be leaders.

$.02 worth.

Boss


A real life Sisyphus...
"It's not the critic who counts..." TR
Exodus 23.2: Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong...
Despite some people's claims to the contrary, 5 lbs. is actually different than 12 lbs.
It's never simple/easy.
 
Posts: 4516 | Location: In the arena... | Registered: December 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of vthoky
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quote:
Originally posted by Boss1:
If they're not willing to do so, they will likely never really be leaders.


This may end up being the case, Boss, in which case the question will become more "how do we manage to tolerate this person" than "how do we make this person better." And that's not an encouraging thought, as it seems The Organization is presently unable to get a leash on this "power hound."




God bless America.
 
Posts: 10104 | Location: Hokie Nation! | Registered: July 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I Am The Walrus
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Boss says go and leader says follow me.

A lot of people think they're leaders but the truth is that not everyone is a leader no matter their level of education or how high they think of themselves. I look around at my classmates in a Masters in HR program and think that these poor idiots think they're leaders but they're not and that the program is a joke and they wouldn't have been accepted into something like an MBA program.


_____________

Edmond
 
Posts: 10797 | Location: Central Florida | Registered: March 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Experienced Slacker
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You'll have to get rid of him and be more fortunate with his replacement. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Just being pragmatic and concise. You've been around the sun a few times, so I suspect you already know this deep down.
 
Posts: 6477 | Registered: May 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of adobesig
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I have seldom seen management reflect leadership. Almost as infrequent are problem solving abilities. We often talk of high performance teams in business but often lack coaches who can develop and get the best of their players and encourage those players that their first responsibility is to play their positions well.
 
Posts: 892 | Location: New Mexico | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of barley
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Wish I knew how to handle that as well. Looking like a hope for retirement.

Managers two levels above holding meetings for every change order request (CCR). Got the tenth degree for a CCR that was .1% of a multi-million dollar project. Same CCR for another larger budget project where the CCR was .07% of the project budget. These two concurrent projects were also completed under time and under budget.

All the while our group (just our group) is having to deliver weekly work summaries. This is a group where engineers are pulling double duty as design engineers and project managers. Ridiculous.
 
Posts: 570 | Location: Alexandria, LA | Registered: April 09, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've always looked at is as:
A leader influences people
A manager handles resources and paperwork
(you can be a leader and a manager, they aren't mutually exclusive and IMHO a good leader also needs some management skills).

And then there are the creatures that want to be in charge and in the spotlight but don't actually lead or manage effectively.

From your post it dosen't sound like Pat can be developed. Hopefully, higher level management will get ride of them before too much damage is done.

If they where salvageable, I'd recommend starting with a "Come to Jesus meeting " preferably handled by the upper management. Then some mentor-ship and development by/with a good leader. Or possibly a rehabilitative transfer.
 
Posts: 4322 | Location: Where ever Uncle Sam Sends Me | Registered: March 05, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had a boss. Fear and micro management were his game. I could write a book about my thoughts on his psychological issues. He was a control freak and when he couldn't get his way with one end he cracked down on what he could. He chased off great employees. I thought the heart attack might spur lasting change and self examination but it didn't. Ultimately a harassment claim did him in. That he lasted as long as he did with the issues he caused made me look at those who had the power to rein him in with distrust. Their inaction was a bad as his behavior.

I tell you that story as a warning. Change probably isn't coming. You can't do much from below and unless those above are willing to to step in you're stuck. If those above don;t know the damage perhaps they need to know though his continued presence reflects poorly on them. If they do know the damage you have your answer about change.
 
Posts: 3686 | Location: Peoples Republic of Berkeley | Registered: June 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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To directly answer your question, I don't think you can change Pat. He's too entrenched in his style. In my experience even his superiors would only get lip service from him.
I worked for one who would spend the entire day of a meeting beating on his managers (myself included) telling them you are only managers, not leaders. Dude is a raging sociopath. Would be on three sides of an opinion and then tell you that you're an idiot for not knowing what needs to be done. Refused to have written take aways from his ranting meetings because that would tie him to something concrete.
Had a long term member of the management team come in one Wednesday and just quit. Left his desk and work like he just went to lunch. Refused to explain to said sociopath. That Friday the manager shoots himself. In the next departmental meeting with 75 people in attendance the sociopath goes on one his rants. Ends it by saying "they next time someone tells me x failed because of y I'm going to shoot them". Of course he had just ranted for an hour on the subject and as usual had been on all sides of the issue.I
At their core these type of people are typical bullies. They don't want to lead, they just want control over others.
What always amazed me was how often these types of people got elevated to their positions. Mine was a Fortune 100 company. Sociopath was on the Board of Directors. It was clear his peers and superiors weren't willing to cross him.
 
Posts: 1376 | Location: Indiana or Florida depending on season  | Registered: March 18, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I suppose we all have our stories. I too have worked with some terrific bosses. And a few awful ones.You're story sounds so familiar. The good ones I always wanted to give a 110% to . The poor ones I just wanted to avoid as much as possible. One additional note. In my expierience the ones that worked their way up thru the ranks were generally the best. The ones that were put in their slot because of the degree they recently acquired were the worst.
 
Posts: 966 | Registered: August 25, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of 9mmnut
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A complaint to upper management signed by all 150 employees should get some attention. If he is going to change it has to come from upper management. I would not work for anyone who did not show me some respect.
 
Posts: 1129 | Location: Southern ,Mi. | Registered: October 17, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of myrottiety
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There is a GREAT book called "Extreme Ownership". It's one of the best leadership books I've read. I can't recommend it enough. If you can somehow recommend it to them. "Man I just finished this awesome book! Want to make a run at it? I'll lend it to you if you want. It's a military book that has some work / life principles in it. Pretty good if you want it."

Extreme Ownership




Train how you intend to Fight

Remember - Training is not sparring. Sparring is not fighting. Fighting is not combat.
 
Posts: 8110 | Location: Alpharetta, GA | Registered: August 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here are two quotes from Dwight D. Eisenhower on leadership that have guided me:

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

“Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.”

ETA: Quotation marks


We've had to endure so much bullshit from corrupt, incompetent and self-serving politicians, and the political ground we've gained has been so hard won. Donald Trump has saved this nation.-Para
 
Posts: 93 | Registered: August 10, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Not as lean, not as mean,
Still a Marine
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My favorite way to deal with a "Boss" is through malicious compliance.

If everything needs to be directed and signed off? I won't do anything not specified. "This wasn't approved by you, and I didn't want to cross any lines" sort of thing.

I hate doing it, but when I did, it lead to discussions (either initiated by said "boss" or by a higher manager).




I shall respect you until you open your mouth, from that point on, you must earn it yourself.
 
Posts: 2685 | Location: Southern Maine | Registered: February 10, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
My dog crosses the line
Picture of Jeff Yarchin
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Sometimes the answer is to move on. If you surround yourself with great people and great leaders, success is the result.
 
Posts: 12421 | Location: EZ Acres, in the Western NC Mountains. | Registered: June 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Don't Panic
Picture of joel9507
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If the question is, is there some way for a subordinate to teach a dictatorial manager to change their style, the short answer is no.

If you were in management and the tyrant was one of your direct reports, there are things you could try, but without that implicit hire-promote-fire authority...maybe in a Broadway play, or a Dickens novel.., but that's fighting uphill.

Thing is, organizing joint activity by workers against the guy could be made to look like a group conspiring against a manager. As political consultants would say 'the optics are bad'. And the tyrant would know it's his job on the line, so he'd do everything to make it look to upper management like a conspiracy of workers 'trying to get a less effective manager so they can slack off', or some such.

If mister psycho has good numbers, he'll have credibility with the upper management. If the company does morale surveys, or looks at employee turnover, eventually the style issues will be identified. Whether or not they do something about it....would depend. Slow process and not the way to bet.

One sneaky way to get rid of someone problematical above you - and possibly have them eventually thank you for it - may be to see if anyone in your circle knows a management recruiter. Give the recruiter 'Pat's' name, position, and contact information and wait - and sometimes miracles happen and 'Pat' gets hired away. Good for him, good for you! Smile

Otherwise, I think Mr. Yarchin's advice is on point. It may be that you need to either decide to accept the aggravation or move on.
 
Posts: 13140 | Location: North Carolina | Registered: October 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Leaders will usually say "work with me"

Managers will usually say "work for me"

Subtle difference in wording, huge difference in real life.
 
Posts: 356 | Location: North of Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: January 29, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Legalize the Constitution
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I came to the conclusion that you cannot “teach” someone to be a leader, that leadership is something innate in a person because there are elements like self-confidence, command presence, and selflessness that cannot be taught.


__________________________________________________________
Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.
- Robert Frost

Amen
 
Posts: 9720 | Location: Wyoming | Registered: January 10, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
SIG's 'n Surefires
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I'll recommend another book (for anyone looking to the management track): "Leaders Eat Last". It explains the biology behind leaders and bosses. It uses both civilian and military examples. My example was my dad. As a minister he was always invited to eat first at the church suppers; but, somehow, he was always talking to one group or person or another and waived others ahead of him into line. He always ate last.



"Common sense is wisdom with its sleeves rolled up." -Kyle Farnsworth
"Freedom of Speech does not guarantee freedom from consequences." Mike Rowe
NRA Life Member

 
Posts: 6627 | Location: IL, due south of the Arch | Registered: April 20, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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