You may not like having a boss. But until you're ready to go out on your own, having a boss will be a fact of life. Your interactions with that boss will determine the quality of your life at work, as well as the progression of your career. It's an important relationship to get right.
Though it may not seem like it, this is a leadership challenge, according to Mindy Mackenzie, author of The Courage Solution: The Power of Truth Telling with Your Boss, Peers, and Team. "It is always appropriate to lead your boss," she explains. "In fact, if you want to be listened to and respected as a trusted advisor, your relationship with your boss does require your leadership."
Here's her advice for making the relationship work for you:
1. Get to know your boss as well as you can.
You can't lead someone you don't fully understand. So, Mackenzie advises, make the time, and make a conscious effort to really get to know your boss. "Spend time to try to understand who your boss is, and how he or she is wired," she says.
2. Learn all you can about the business.
"Get to know the business you are in as though were the owner or CEO," Mackenzie says. You'll need to do this anyway if you ever want to reach a leadership role within the company, and it's a good idea even if you don't.
3. Strive for great communication.
"Inform early and often," Mackenzie advises. This means taking the initiative to alert your boss if you've made a mistake, she says. It also means giving him or her the benefit of the doubt. "These principles are the price of admission to creating a solid, mutually respectful relationship with your boss," she says. "And they require a measure of courage."
4. Ask what's most important to your boss.
Mackenzie suggests asking each week what the top priority is for that week so that you can provide information or propose solutions to them when they will have the most impact. "When you do that, your ideas and suggestions will get the attention and respect they deserve."
5. Give positive feedback.
If you hate your boss, this won't work. But if there are things he or she is doing right, make sure to say so. "Provide honest praise and affirmation," Mackenzie says. "Look for traits you admire and respect and communicate that."
And don't just tell your boss, she adds. Tell others--including your boss's boss.
6. Commit to your boss's success.
"For as long as you choose to work for your boss, your job is to get in sync with that person, not the other way around," Mackenzie says. "Have a mindset and approach that will make your boss successful." Do that, and you'll be successful too.