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I Am A Difficult Boss And I Know It

I Am A Difficult Boss And I Know It

Every leadership book I have ever read has outlined a long list of the different types of boss that a person can be. There’s the micromanager, the dictator, the abuser and the complete and utter idiot. There’s also the boss that can’t delegate, does not trust their team and has a hard time letting go.

These are all examples of bad bosses. A boss who cannot get over themselves enough to lead their team into battle is not a leader. That boss is a coward.

Out of all the leadership books on my shelf, I have yet to come across one that describes the kind of boss I am.

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I am a difficult boss. I know what I am. My team knows what I am. Even other managers know what I am.

From the outside, my management style is confusing. For those who are too used to dealing with the bosses already mentioned, I am an enigma. From the outside, I look like I might fall into the bad boss category. But if you spend five minutes on a team with someone like me, it becomes clear that I am not mean, controlling or an idiot. I am simply difficult.

A Difficult Boss Is Not a Bad Boss

Difficulty is a word with many negative connotations. Because of these preconceived ideas, too many people associate difficult bosses with being a bad boss. There is nothing further from the truth. A difficult boss will not shout obscenities at their team for the sake of it. They know how to delegate and how to trust the right people.

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A difficult boss is not a bad boss at all. In fact, a difficult boss is the kind of boss that anyone who wants to grow in their position wants to have. A difficult boss pushes you to become the best version of yourself at work. It’s a leadership style that sits comfortably between the overbearing boss who will only excuse you from a meeting if your dead and the kind of boss whose team walks all over them.

A Difficult Boss Is Not a Mean Boss

I do not heap praise on my team for mediocre work. For some people, this seems a harsh thing to say. In my eyes, it is not harsh. It is merely pragmatic.

A good boss values their employees. They will say please and thank you and recognize that they need their team to succeed. As a difficult boss, I do all of these things. I thank my barista at Starbucks for giving me the coffee I need to get through the day, why would I not thank my team?

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But while I understand social cues, I am not about to tell my team that they have done a fantastic job when they haven’t. Handing out praise left and right does not benefit anyone. My employees have to work to earn sincere and enthusiastic praise.

But if you ask them whether they think I am mean, they will tell you no. In fact, they appreciate that the praise they get is sincere and duly earned. It just feels better to know that when your boss tells you you’ve done a fantastic job, you actually did do a great job!

A Difficult Boss Wants More

As a difficult boss, I am not hard to please just because I feel like being that way. The reason that I demand more from my team is because I want more for them. I want to help them grow and develop both professionally and personally.

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I’m not an army drill sergeant. I do not need to berate my employees to force them to transcend their boundaries. But the principle is the same. You do not get what you do not ask for in life. I ask for more of my employees so that they give more. It is that simple.

A Difficult Boss Wants You To Grow

I do not want more for my team for my own gain. That kind of boss is a bad boss. Of course, I stand to benefit when my team excels. Wanting more for my team is about wanting them to grow.

I believe in my team and I know they are good, honorable people. But I also know that everyone sometimes need an extra incentive to reach their potential. In fact, I need that extra boost myself. When I see my team working to reach their potential, I am inspired to keep pushing myself along with them. That does not make be a bad boss or a selfish boss. It makes me a leader.

I am a difficult boss. Anyone will tell you that. But I am not a bad boss. If I was a bad boss, you would not be able to question it.

Featured photo credit: ylmworkshop via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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