Stephen R. Covey: Become the Leader of Your Boss.

The other day my son, who is just starting his career in business, asked me how to manage his boss. I wish I had some of the advice that Stephen Covey presents in Become the Leader of Your Boss. It is so important to learn how to manage up, to be empathetic (even to your boss) and to understand what motivates behavior.  Since I have been a manager for so long, I immediately thought about an article from the Harvard Business Review: "Management Time: Who's got the Monkey?" by William Oncken Jr., Donald L. Wass.  My experience as a manager was to delegate and coach, not to take things back or to hover as someone executed my direction. 

One thing that I have learned from, that could be relevant, from the practice of negotiation, is to always, "go to the balcony" (Roger Fisher (professor and Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project) and not to get immediately emotional about work related problems.  From the balcony, you can look down on situations and decide on the best course of action.  Reacting immediately and emotionally to frustrating events is easy, but unproductive, and bosses that hover over your work can push you to react emotionally.  Going to the balcony and empathetically making an effort to understand a bosses concerns, could help.

Would empathy help with a boss that likes to micromanage?  It is worth a try; working with people requires lots of experimenting.   I had one boss that liked to micromanage, so I learned what his anxieties were.  I found I could keep him off my back by bringing up the aspects of my job that made him most nervous.  He only focused on those things, usually quite trivial and detail oriented, and left all the other stuff to me. I was free to work on the things that were most important and interested me.  He left our checkpoint meetings with answers to the questions that most concerned him most, while I made my contribution.

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