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Senior Correspondent

Those who poke lions end up bloody.

It was news to me when my boss’s boss said, “I know you guys don’t get along.” I thought we got along great. She thought I was hard to manage.

Bosses define success. The difference between disruption and innovation is the boss’s attitude toward change. You may believe success is coming up with new ideas. But if your boss doesn’t like waves, you’re a troublemaker.

Seven Reasons You Might Be Hard to Manage:

  1. Fixing the boss’s shortcomings is your mission in life. You think you're helping. In reality, you come off like a jerk.
  2. Organizational culture is an inconvenience to you. You’re a bull in the china shop when you don’t understand how things get done in your organization regardless of your intentions.
  3. There’s one way to do things – yours.
  4. Drama is your middle name.
  5. The team comes second. You come first.
  6. There’s always something wrong.
  7. Feedback is met with reasons, excuses, or complaints.

Seven Ways to Work with Lions:

  1. Listen to the questions your boss keeps asking. Answer their questions before they ask.
  2. Solve frustrations, don’t create them. I’ve had teammates who make my life harder and some who make it easier – guess who earned opportunities?
  3. Avoid tug-of-war with your boss. Hot emotion reflects their need to control.
  4. Show compassion. Your boss is dealing with issues you may not understand.
  5. Remember: when you fail, their boss asks them, not you, what happened. (This applies most to organizational cultures where mistakes are considered failures rather than learning opportunities.
  6. Stop whining about things you can’t change. If you’re in a highly regulated industry, accept it or move on.
  7. Spend most of your time managing your team, not your boss.

Bonus: Give your boss what they want, not what you want. Leadership is about others, and that includes the boss.

What other mistakes do people make with the boss? What lion-management tips work for you?

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