Friday, May 31, 2019

Stop following your boss and get in front

Many smart people make a fundamental error in their relationship with their boss whether that be an individual or a board. They wait for direction rather than taking the initiative to set direction themselves. In doing so they give up a great deal of their autonomy because they are no longer controlling their destiny.

OK you say, "but it is our job to follow our authority." Yes, we are accountable to our authority but it is possible and preferable to influence the direction you are going by getting in front of your authority rather than simply responding to it. How do you do this?

First, you get in front of your boss when you learn to anticipate their thinking and direction, take the time to think deeply about where they are going and make your own plans accordingly. In other words, you are proactively moving in the direction they are moving and where possible are a step ahead in your thinking. If you are right, by being ahead of them, you can directly influence their direction.

You get in front of your boss when you proactively address concerns you know they have before they ask you to do so. Not only have you done the hard work to think a step ahead of your boss but you have done the harder work to ensure that you are already addressing needs you know they will address - before they address them. 

How do you obtain the intelligence to know where your boss wants to go? You listen carefully and ask a lot of penetrating questions about their intentions and direction. And you pay attention to what their priorities are and what issues they seem passionate about. Find out what they are being pressed on by their supervisor or board so that you can address issues that they are being pushed to address. 

Ironically, for those who do this, their supervisor, boss or board often end up following them rather than the other way around. You are now setting the pace, or in the least have major influence as to where the direction is going. This is a huge win for healthy staff who desire to have influence in the organization they work for.

Rather than follow, think about leading by getting in front of the issues.