20 Things to do When the Boss is Wrong
You have an obligation to yourself, your boss, and your organization to speak up when you disagree. One of the best ways to earn respect is advocating for your ideas with integrity, courtesy, and intelligence.
Strong organizations have courageous leaders.
Weakness gives in too soon.
Arrogance hangs on too long.
Foolishness speaks before thinking.
When the boss thinks you’re wrong but you think you’re right:
- Make the boss feel understood. Do you fully understand her position? Ask questions.
- Determine if it’s worth the fight.
- Don’t give in if you’re convinced. Organizations need leaders with strong beliefs.
- Advocate with courage and courtesy.
- Engage them in private.
- Explain your intentions and desired results. Describe the win.
- Explore how you can give the boss what they need while hanging on to what you need.
- Get the facts.
- Test assumptions.
- Search for options.
- Embrace the big picture.
- Include others in the conversation but don’t make anyone look foolish.
- Don’t use the past as an argument.
- Employ forward focused language.
- Check your alignment with organizational mission, vision, and values.
- Evaluate your connection with goals and strategy.
- Acknowledge you could be wrong.
- Focus on issues not personalities.
- Stay loyal and keep trying. If you can’t be loyal you must go.
- When overruled, grab an oar and row for all your worth. Only babies take their toys and pout when they don’t get what they want. Your response when you don’t get what you want illustrates your character.
What does effective disagreement look like?
What are all the seals thinking in the picture above?
Well I can’t make anyone feel anything. They decide what they think just like I do.
What I can do is be respectful and agree to disagree and move on.
I learned a long time ago if they say “no” I say NEXT.
Bob Chapman, THE MAN, actually in my life, one of Four Heros, says with people who do not “get it” just move to the ones who do.
AA Big book says the same thing so I am for that!
Oxytocin flows when I am giving to someone who wants what I have to give not trying to pry it into a closed mind and a clinched fist.
The seals in my opinion are saying, “More Oxytocin, Less Cortisol”. Very informed and insightful seals!!!!
SP back to oxytocin production!
“make them feel” is just a way of speaking.
The point of the post is not to move on. Leaders stand up for what they believe in even while maintaining loyalty to those they disagree with.
Well Simon says this,
“It is ones willingness to sacrifice FOR someone else so that they feel safe that makes you a Leader”. This way they trust you have their back, not trying to get them to do something to benefit you.
So I guess that means if my Boss is wrong I could sit down and listen to him/ her. Then just let them do what they are gonna do anyway.
My experience stands, not meant to say yours is wrong if different, just different.
With those who don’t get it, leave them be. You won’t convince them to believe what you believe, you will just be annoying to them and frustrate yourself. My experience.
It is really a tricky situation to tell truth when boss is wrong. You do not know the reaction. You also may not understand the trigger that forces boss to believe that he or she is right. Saying publicly could be even harmful when boss is not ready to accept the reality. Your suggestions are good and powerful. However, I think some other suggestions could also be powerful. It is important to create a feeling that even boss is wrong, his idea is powerful. This strategy could be applicable everywhere since it does not either expose or lower the importance of boss. Secondly, as you suggested, it is important to appreciate the experience of boss before suggesting anything. The most important thing to understand is boss should not feel inferior, less knowledgeable or incompetent by your remark that he is not right.
I also feel that disagreement about who is right and who is wrong is about perception. The one who is good at managing perception may handle situation but the one who is poor in managing perception may invite trouble. I think, one should create good relationship and win the trust before effectively disagree with the boss. But those who are new, should be careful in their tone, expression and non verbal gesture while pointing out what is wrong.
I’m glad you added the idea of building relationships before you disagree. If we wait till we need a relationship it’s too late.
sometimes, if there is time, you can plant the seeds of the new idea, and the boss will ruminate and eventually take it as his own.
This has worked for me many times, but the down side is they tend to believe the idea is their own. Still, it is for the good of the company.
Other times, if you must disagree, you must always separate the idea from the person. It’s important to respect the chain of command if you feel escalation is a must – but if you go that route it is unlikely to end well for either you, or your boss.
I hear you saying start early…don’t wait. Good call.
The warning about escalating an issue over your bosses head is well taken. The only time I can think it’s appropriate to do that is when legal or moral issues are involved.
Escalating your answer to a problem over the bosses head doesn’t earn respect.
right – once you escalate – you turn the situation into win/lose and all chances of win/win are gone
Planting seeds is an excellent way of shaping ideas and getting buy in. This is also a strategy used by Toyota. If the team doesn’t buy into the idea, neither will the management. It’s possible (and perhaps more time consuming) to establish consensus from the ground up, but in the long run can be better than working from the top down.
I don’t mean to be rude or anything , but who are you and why do you blog ? O_O I mean your stuff seems very I don’t know worked on and people can relate to it which is obviously nice. Id on’t even know why I am asking this .
I’ll let the material stand on it’s own. You can judge.
that ^ came off as weird right. I mean I just like 2 days ago joined this place and yours was the first blog that i started following. Since all the people in my class are dumb people but have loud mouths and I have a silent mouth but loud thoughts and I need to kind of know more about business and other issues because living in your own dream world does you know good when you are in the commerce stream. so here I am .
Thanks and I look forward to your future comments. You’ll find broad diversity here.
Great post Dan!
Facts should be the only one speaking.
Thanks for jumping in spotmagicsolis.
I appreciate your perspective.
Thanks for sharing. I like your suggestions. For the first suggestion I would revise to give both genders equal opportunity to lead and to be wrong. 🙂
If I can’t “talk” it out, I write it out on paper or (preferably) a white board. When the “idea” is written out, the focus of the discussion shifts to the board and becomes less about “me” and / or the boss.
I also search for and use successful models or “surrogates” that exemplify or enhance the idea being shared.
Great post as always Dan. Thanks for sharing.
Your insight re: whiteboards is great. I’ll remember that one.
Checking alignment with organizational vision, mission and guiding principals is very important. Don’t think that the real mission or vision is what is written on the wall of the lobby or the footer of the stationary. In many organizations the stated and real vision and mission are far apart.
Great post! I agree with everything written here. As someone who has had their fair share of awful bosses. Getting the facts straight, searching for options and proper communication has always been key in getting your point across. Well done.
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How outrageous is it that the boss is female but WRONG. How sexist. Leadership. Really?
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