Connecting with the boss

Recently, a new Leadership Freak subscriber emailed their interest in the topic of “managing the boss.” What a great topic? I wish I’d received counsel on this essential skill when I was younger because your relationship with the boss will either make or break you.

On one occasion, I remember packing my office and preparing to leave the company I worked for. Did I hate my job? No. Did I have a better offer? No. I was butting heads with my boss. Thankfully, we sat down before I left and averted a personal disaster. However, conflict with the boss may explode and terminate your employment.

How important is connecting with your boss? I’ve heard it said, “People leave managers not companies.”

Five ways to connect with the boss

#1. Be a suck up. Sean Silverthorne explains that sucking up works to create feelings of good will. However, if this idea turns you off, let me offer more palatable options.

#2. Embrace your power. Help your boss succeed. Does she want a promotion? Help her get one. Is he riding out his job to retirement? Carefully innovate through – not around him. Think twice before threatening your boss’s position or goals.

#3. Ask your boss for advice and then take it. Even though this is #3 on the list, I think it’s your most powerful connector.

#4. Over-communicate. Typically, bosses need more information than managers provide. In contrast, an effective manager’s ability to work independently may result in minimal communication. Therefore, as a general rule, over communicate until you uncover his level of need for information.

#5. Adapt to your boss’s preferred communication style. Is it face-to-face, email, written reports, or informal conversations?

Bonus technique: Exceeding expectations with exceptional performance connects you with a secure boss.


What strategies for connecting with the boss can you suggest? Do you have an example of a relationship with the boss that went well or badly?


Community Announcement

The Leadership Freak article “De-motivation” generated a lively useful conversation. Thanks go out to Richard Croads for compiling all the reader comments and adding to the list of De-motivators. Read his blog, “Motivation Myths – Pt. 1,” and download the compiled list of De-motivators.