How to Work for a Boss You Dislike

How to Work for a Boss You Dislike

Really fast disclaimer: I like my boss. A lot. I am really blessed not only to enjoy what I do but also to enjoy serving alongside whom I am accountable to. Work is so much more fun when you enjoy both what you are doing and whom you are serving alongside. I do get asked questions frequently about thriving or even enduring when working for someone you don’t like. This was the subject of a recent Five Leadership Questions podcast where I was a guest.

Here are four thoughts I share when people ask me about working for a boss they don’t like:

1. Working for a boss you don’t trust is worse than working for one you don’t like.

Ideally, you trust, respect and like your leader. If you have all three, enjoy the season and thank your leader. But you can easily cope with not necessarily liking your leader, without wanting to spend times together over BBQ and family gatherings. When you trust your leader, you trust his or her character. You don’t waste time wondering about motives or contemplating the real reason for decisions or direction. If you don’t like your leader’s style or approach, but trust him or her, rejoice.

2. Rejoice for the growth and learning.

If you find yourself working for someone you don’t like, rejoice for the growth and learning. When we work for and alongside people who are committed to the same mission and values yet are different in personalities and approaches, growth and maturing are the result.

3. Focus on the mission.

The mission is bigger than your boss. If you joined a team with a grand mission, the mission can easily sustain you through the struggles of personality clashes and the lonely feelings of not really liking your boss.

4. Check the common denominator.

If you did not like your last boss, and the one before that, you are the common denominator. The problem is not everyone else; the problem is you. Ask yourself if you can really follow someone or if you are too filled with cynicism to really contribute. Sadly, cynicism can rob us of enjoying great opportunities because we spend all our time poking holes in plans and little time making the most of the time.

Before you make yet another move, take an honest look at yourself and be sure you are not the common denominator.