There are plenty of books and articles on being a good
leader and being a good follower. Indeed, excellent followership starts with
leadership. Moreover, there are a lot of good books because there a lot of
people who need leadership training and mentoring. But, what do you do when
your supervisor is an idiot? Here are ten tips:
When you are frustrated it is counterintuitive that
supportive behavior will improve the situation. But, your supervisor's idiotic
behavior is may be founded in their lack of skills or in a sense of being
overwhelmed. Adding fuel to the fire by being less than supportive will only
make it worse. And, there is a good chance that your support will help you boss
over some hump.
There is no room for complaining down the chain of
command. In some instances, subordinate leaders allow their followers to gripe
about the leader's boss. This is a very bad thing to encourage. And, it is
encouraged by leaders who remain silent when they hear negative comments and
don't take action. It ALWAYS encourages the followers to focus off mission and
it ALWAYS creates an environment where complaining and sniping about you is
acceptable. It undermines your authority. When you hear it, don't acknowledge,
focus the followers back on the mission without reference to the comment. If it
continues, make it clear that negative comments about your leader are
inappropriate and focus your people on the mission.
There is being an idiot and then there's being a dangerous
idiot. Understand that any action you take to correct your leaders actions may
have consequences. However, if your leader is doing something dangerous,
unethical or illegal you must act. You have a duty to protect your followers
even if it is at personal risk.
FIND FEEDBACK LOOPS
Every organization has some type of feedback loop. While
it is likely your boss's boss knows that your leader is a knucklehead, use
appropriate feedback loops to ensure the information is communicated. It could
be as simple the organizations suggestion box.
Okay, you might be the idiot. Every leader needs a
mentor. Find someone, outside your chain of command with whom you can have
confidential communication. Maybe it is you, maybe your leader is not as bad as
you perceive. Get feedback on your observations and conclusions. Make sure you
have the right idiot identified.
Read the Red Badge of Courage. One of the more interesting
passages is when the main character thinks they are losing the battle. Well, in
his few feet of the war it certainly looks that way. On the contrary, his side
is winning. The character's skewed perspective causes him to make some very bad
decisions. If your leaders seems like an idiot, or the mission seems sideways,
make sure you have as much understanding of the wider organizational goal(s) as
possible. Maybe its only the few feet in front of you that make the decisions
and actions of your leader seem idiotic.
Repeat back instructions and directions. Use active
listening skills to help your leader clarify and perhaps re-think. As an
example, re-state to clarify; as I understand you, you want me to Make sure
you are not misunderstanding what is required (making it seem idiotic) and use
active listening to help your boss analysis his or her own decisions.
DO YOUR BEST
You can never go wrong doing your best. Yes, you might
make an idiot look good, but less than your best effort hurts your organization
and your followers. Don't be tempted by the evils of passive sabotage.
Idiots tend to rotate in and out. Again, this is a
perspective issue. Don't let the current idiot define your career. Don't take
some action (or inaction) solely because you believe your supervisor is an
idiot. Don't create a train wreck in your career based on your perceptions of
the current idiot - do you job and do it well.
It goes without saying. The point is not to build a case
against your idiot supervisor. The point is to be able to defend your actions
if your supervisor focuses his or her idiocy on you. Don't be ruined by an
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Using poker as analogy for leadership, Captain
Andrew Harvey, CPD (ret.), Ed.D. and Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.),
MPA found the right mix of practical experience and academic credentials to
write a definitive book for leaders. Working together, Harvey and Foster have
written Leadership: Texas Hold em Style.
Most often leaders find they are given a set of resources people, equipment,
funds, experience and a mission. As Foster noted, "You're dealt a certain hand.
How you play that hand as a leader determines your success."
More than a
A fun and entertaining journey
through leadership that includes an interactive website to supplement
knowledge gained from the book.
Not an academic approach to
leadership, but rather a road-tested guide that has been developed through
50-years of author experience.
High Impact: Through
the use of perspective, reflection, and knowledge, provides information that
turns leadership potential into leadership practice.
is reinforced with real-life experience, which results in accessible and
practical tools leaders can put to use
Personal character and ethical
beliefs are woven into each leadership approach, so leaders do the
right thing for the
Uses Game of
Rather than a dry approach that is all fact and no flavor, the game of poker
is used as a lens through which to view leadership concepts.
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.) was a sworn
member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He holds a bachelors
from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a
Master's Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University,
Fullerton. And, continues with his doctoral studies in creative and ethical
leadership. Raymond is a graduate of the West Point Leadership program and has
attended law enforcement, technology and leadership programs such as the
National Institute for Justice, Technology Institute, Washington, DC.