Your Boss: Helping or Hurting You?

Does your boss help your career or hinder your career? It seems like a direct question with one of two choices: help or hinder. However, the answer can be difficult. For most employees the answer is far from simple, but for a few they already know the answer.

If your boss is intentionally hurting your career you should get a new boss. If your boss is a card carrying member of psychology’s dark triad of narcissism (it’s all about me!), psychopathy (I don’t care about you!) and Machiavellianism (I will manipulate you!) then run don’t walk to the nearest exit or your job conditions will continue to deteriorate. Spending time trying to fix your job situation, or worse, trying to fix your boss is better spent finding a new boss.

If your boss is so beneficial to your career than stay with the boss, until he or she is no longer beneficial. If your boss has recently moved to a bigger office because they need more wall space for all their outstanding leadership awards and more desk space for all their world’s greatest boss coffee mugs than your work situation is good, for now, but always subject to change.

It is important to make sure your boss is not neglecting their other responsibilities and not neglecting their boss as they are helping your career. If your boss is neglecting their responsibilities and their boss, eventually they will be pressured to change their behavior and how they allocate their time, which often leads to less focus on employees.

Most employees have bosses that both help and hinder them to various degrees at different times. Your boss comes to you with a problem and says could you (you have a choice? yes, no, maybe?) to deliver a presentation to a particular group that states how “we” (congratulations, you now are the partial owner of the problem) are going to solve the problem, redefine the problem, ignore the problem or appease the aggrieved parties.

We live in an age where consensus building, collaboration, and employee engagement rule the day. Bosses are discouraged from acting like tyrants, although, unfortunately, many still exhibit tyrannical qualities.

Today bosses are flatters, seducers and ego manipulators. They tell you how nobody else can do the task, how they come to you because you get things done or how they can’t do it themselves, but you can. Your boss might have been promoted into their job for a variety of reasons: success in a prior job, showing great potential, being smart, being stupid, blind luck, connections or randomness. The reason your boss succeeds in their job is not because they are the smartest person in the room (the people that work for them are the smartest people in the room). The reason your boss succeeds is partially based on their ability to juggle and manage competing priorities, pressures, tasks, meetings, potential crisis and actual crisis.

If you are easily seduced by flattery and ego gratification, watch out. Good bosses know you, which buttons to push, your strengths (and weaknesses) and how to emotionally caress you. Your boss might have good intentions, but you must guard against this behavior from your boss. Encountering these situations from a strategic perspective, rather than an emotional perspective, will help immensely in your assessment of what your boss actually wants.

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