We’ve all been there at some time. You may not admit it with the words of the title of this article, but you’ve complained enough about them: bad leaders. Bad leaders come in all different varieties: The Micro-Manager, The Blame-Shifter, The Tyrant, The Vague Communicatior, The One Track Mind, add yours here… At one time, maybe more than once, you have served a bad leader. We’ve been talking this past month about #leadingup, but how are you supposed to lead up when the person “up” is a terrible leader?
Let’s get one thing straight: leading up is on you, not them. Who, what, how they are is not something you can control. And when you are under someone who seems to be terrible at their leadership, it can be incredibly frustrating. You may be reading these articles asking yourself, “how can I change them?” I’m here to tell you, “YOU CAN’T!” All you can control is you.
So, here’s three quick tips / reminders when leading up to a “bad” leader:
1. Work on “You”
It’s tempting to focus on the other person, but you can’t control them, no matter how much you complain to other people about them. Because, let’s face it, you’re probably not complaining to their face, right? I mean, you still have a job under this person… So work on yourself. Do all that you can to support and be a blessing. Since all you can control is yourself, make sure that your righteousness is never tainted, even if you feel self-righteous.
Make it all about “them”, and you will fail or get yourself fired.
2. Remember God Is In Control
Chances are, God knows this person is in leadership, and He probably noticed your frustrations at some point as well. So give it up to Him. Pray for this person regularly, and not the “bolt of lightning” prayer. Ask God to make you an instrument of blessing for that person. Seek divine insight into their process so you can work with that.
Do not start expecting God to remove them “any minute now…”, but treat them as an anointed leader placed by God until He says otherwise. Read 1 Samuel 18 for inspiration.
3. Talk About It . . . With Them!
Have you tried talking it out? I mean really talking it through. Like, ask why they would say “this-thing-that-hurt-me”. Try asking what exactly happened the last time you got on their bad side, and give them a chance to respond without your defensiveness. Seek to know their heart, their motivations. And no matter what you think, you do not know why they do what they do. So you have to ask.
Don’t give up when it doesn’t solve everything right away. Be persistent, in love, and make it known that you want to work at fixing whatever it is you are doing wrong in their eyes. You just may find that not only does this increase your arsenal of ways to work with people, but you might deepen your friendship here (or build a new one) in the process. And best of all, you may lead them to change as they examine their motives and actions and realize the effect they have on you.