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Become the Leader of Your Boss.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Each week we will be asking Dr. Covey to comment on common questions.
This week we ask: How can I take control of my professional life and lead?

In today’s working world there are millions of employees in identical
cubical “farms” who feel frustrated by their company’s hierarchies.
The way they’re micromanaged–or not managed at all–leaves them
feeling powerless.

If you remember nothing else from this blog remember this: leadership has nothing to do with formal authority, it has everything to do with influence.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be your boss’s boss, but it does mean that you can lead your boss. How? Simple.

Empathize.

Think of your boss’s challenges, problems, concerns, and future plans–this is empathy. With empathy and anticipation you can act independently of your boss to deal with concerns and discover opportunities and underlying threats.

By acting independently and keeping your boss’s needs in mind (or the company’s needs) you are, in effect, leading. Your ability to anticipate needs is limitless, making your power and influence in the workplace limitless. You’ll always be frustrated if you get hung up on formal hierarchies. However, if you are focused on empathy, regardless of your position, you can achieve the leadership and influence you desire.

I was once an administrative assistant to a very controlling and micromanaging president. One of his subordinates was an excellent example of empathy and anticipation. Every time he was asked a question or given an assignment he asked himself, “What is it that the boss is really trying to accomplish and why does he want this information?” He was so empathic that he delivered not only the request, but additional recommendations and analyses of the information. It was so well thought-out that the president immediately adopted it. The president’s confidence in him caused this person’s influence to grow to the point that his endorsement on projects became mandatory. Contrastingly, the other employees saw the boss as controlling and micromanaging. They would stand around in the executive halls and washrooms describing the boss’s weaknesses and mistakes. Consider how unproductive that was by comparison.

Remember, every time you think the problem is “out there,” that very thought is the problem. Focus on the things which you can influence and you will become a leader in any situation–even the leader of your boss.


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