One of our readers posed the question after reading last week’s post: “What if I am a bossy boss?” It is reasonable to assume that most workplaces have its share of managers that are overbearing and harsh. Moreover, the style that most managers adopt becomes rather ingrained over time and cannot be changed simply by deciding another way may be better. Once we repeatedly practice a trait, it becomes part of who we are. It is not that we cannot change; it is that change is not easy. Nevertheless, the root of improving the relationship between the bossy boss and his or her direct reports starts with respect.
The bottom line is that most employees want to work for someone that respects their talent and contribution as well as they can respect as a leader. Most of us are taught that we should respect people in positions of authority from a very young age. Most of us first learn the concept of respect based on the position, status, or rank a person holds and their placement in our society. We are told to respect parents, teachers, religions leaders, law enforcement, other officials, and those older than we are. It is not uncommon for a leader to assume that this socially constructed respect will guarantee authority regardless of behavior. However, as we age, we come to realize that respect can be defined more broadly and encompass feelings of appreciation, esteem, honor, and regard. We learn that some people, regardless of position still deserve our respect for how they live their life and the role they play in ours. This difference between title granted and earned respect can accentuate control issues for the manager and undermine any real engagement present among those making up the team.
So, what can an aggressive boss do? He or she can be more responsive to those characteristics and behaviors that bring out the most desired responses from employees. He or she can build mutual respect.
Some simple things that increase mutual respect include:
- Reduce tension
- Avoiding outbursts
- Give others the chance to offer their opinions
- Recognize that not all people are the same
- Couple high expectations with encouragement
- Show appreciation
- Acknowledge the success of others