THE Critical Question for you to answer, “Can I trust the character/heart of the person/s over me even when I have good reason to not trust their competence in handling the situation we are facing?”
If you answer, “No” to that question; pray and ask God if you should leave the position. The Bible warns of the danger of leaders with corrupt character creating a wake of destruction. OR …At least know how to pray and be very cautious.
If you answer “Yes” realize that the poor exercise of competence can still sink the organization, wound people including you, and generally make a mess. The lack of or poor communication or a hundred other poorly executed skills related to leading, managing and empowering others still spells poor supervision.
Skills can be learned and practiced and improved in many cases if a supervisor is humble and teachable.
SO — what do you think and do?
Think — I should not assume that someone over me knows how to lead me well. Your supervisor/s are not mind readers and often do not have a good feel of what you need to carry out your responsibilities. They are too concerned about their own work to know yours well. They often hired you to do what they do not have time or desire to do.
Do — Inform the supervisor/s what you need to be empowered and effective in your responsibilities. List your vital contributions to the organization. Then describe what you need now or in the near future to be effective. Sit down and discuss the list — even when it includes items such as, “Limit surprises that disrupt my day or week… they confuse my priorities and push me out of clarity into crisis reaction.” Be honest but realistic about the nature of the workplace. Lead UP the way you want to be addressed by someone UNDER you.
Remember that you work FOR them. Do not assume that you know their preferred work language. Ask questions and then be diligent to lay down your own preferences, if necessary, to use their language. WHAT IS A WORK LANGUAGE?
Examples of questions that uncover work language or style?
- How do you prefer to communicate? (face to face planned meetings, as you walk by, e-mail, text, phone, etc.,)
- How do you prefer to address conflict? (write up summary and then ask to meet to follow-up, over lunch, etc.,)
- How do you prefer to evaluate results? (standard reports of benchmarks, surveys, daily tasks accomplished, etc.,)
- How do you prefer to handle personal non-work issues in my life? (leave it at home, let’s have coffee, at weekly meeting, etc.,)
Bottom Line — We are ALL developing competence in leading UP to those over us and DOWN to those under us. Stay humble and ask this question, “What am I doing that is making your job more challenging or difficult?” Then listen, act on what you hear and follow up in a few weeks to see if you have improved.
WHAT IS HELPING YOU TO LEAD UP OR LEAD DOWN?