Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Ways to Adapt to Your Boss's Style

Yes, I know.  You have style.  Whether its what you choose to wear on casual Fridays or how you nurse that morning 22 oz coffee until lunchtime, we all have our own particular styles.  But when it comes to getting ahead, it helps to adapt your style to your boss's style.

This doesn't mean kissing up, or turning yourself into a "mini me" of your boss.

you called, boss?

What it does mean is that you need to understand what your boss's leadership style is and align yourself with it so that (1) you can make your boss succeed and (2) you will end up moving up the organization as well.  According to a recent leadership textbook, "Research has shown that some executives fail to get promoted (ie, are derailed) because they are unable or unwilling to to adapt to superiors with leadership styles different from their own." (Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy)

So how do you do it?

1. Determine how your boss communicates.  Does she prefer face-to-face or over email?  Does she like long conversations or short interactions?  Whenever possible, communicate as she does.

2. How does your boss view heirarchical structure?  Are they formal ("you shall address me as Mr. Jenkins") or casual ("call me Pete")?  Follow suit.

3. How do they make decisions?  Are they collaborative or authoritarian?  If they are collaborative you may help them by soliciting other viewpoints on a problem that you are working on.  Conversely, if they prefer authoritarian decision making, and have assigned you a task, collect all the information on your own, make a firm decision, and let the boss know what it is and that you stand behind it.

4. Clarify your job role.  It's hard to guess what your job is if you aren't clearly informed through a job description.  You think you know what an Assistant Product Manager is, but do you know what your boss thinks an Assistant Product Manager should be doing?  Your opinion and his may not overlap.  They may not even be close.  If you aren't given a job description, take the initiative to write down what you feel are your main job duties and responsibilities.  What do you spend your time working on?  Are you responsible for making sure others do certain tasks?  Collect all this information and request a meeting (formally or informally - see #2 above) with your boss to discuss it.  Do you agree on what is expected of you?  Do you agree on how those duties should be carried out?

5. Be honest and dependable.  Nothing above matters if you aren't a quality person.

There you go- Five Steps to a better relationship with your boss, and a more quickly-advancing career!

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