Solution Saturday: A Simple Strategy to Take Control of Your Future
There are few things which look nice in theory but not in the real world, for example, “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t become who you were meant to be.”
What happens when you say what you think and you get into trouble?
Dan, what type of leadership is this? Your Boss seems to talk wise but when you tell him that you are not happy and not productive in the project, as well as in the team, he does nothing.
You literally begged him many times to get you out of that team and that project but he refuses to do that. His only explanation is that he can’t do that. There are tons of people with my skills only but he refuses to move someone else to this horrible team and terrible project.
You told him many times that because of this stress you gained 19 pounds of weight in 6 months since you accepted this job.
I really want to know what would you call this type of leadership where your boss knows that an employee is miserable but he does nothing.
He always says I want my employees to be happy and productive. I told him today that please never ever say that you want your employees to be happy and productive. It’s not true.
Please share with me your thoughts about this type of leadership. This is very stressful for me.
Your email is disturbing in so many ways. Before I share an idea of how to thrive in this situation, let me address the sense of discomfort I feel.
Your request that I share my thoughts on your boss feels off base. I know it feels good to have someone commiserate with you. And your email does make me feel sad. But I’ve heard it said that there are no wrong questions. Your question is the wrong question. It won’t help you very much if I agree that you have a lousy boss.
I have one simple suggestion to help you take control of your future. Create a circle of success.
Circle of Success:
I believe you need support and challenge from others. You aren’t going to get it from your boss or a dysfunctional team.
Find three other people who are passionate to succeed. Include internal colleagues and external professionals. Meet with them once a week.
Don’t invite whiners and complainers. Avoid people who take your side rather than pursue improvement. Yes, you’re unhappy. It doesn’t do any good for you to center your life on the things that make you unhappy.
Establish a forward-facing purpose: Develop leadership skills, for example.
Use personal perspective to clarify objectives. For example, how might you encourage each other? Have each member personally describe what encouragement looks like in action. Make specific commitments to encourage each other in ways that personally work for each other.
Answer challenging questions together:
- How might we succeed on dysfunctional teams?
- What can we do when we feel our leaders are wrong?
- What does service look like when others seem unworthy of being served?
- How might we maintain optimism in negative situations?
- How might we support each other in our leadership development?
Commit to behaviors, not theories or thoughts. What exactly will you do to succeed on dysfunctional teams, for example.
Hold each other accountable. Make commitments to try new behaviors. Describe the behaviors. Report on the results. Share learnings. Set new goals.
Notes about your leader:
It goes without saying that if you can find a new job, do it. I suspect that you want to stay with your organization.
You can’t change your leader. Accept that he isn’t going to take you off the team. You’re expending energy that could be centered on more productive activities.
Leadership begins when we accept realities. You change what you first accept. Acceptance isn’t agreement. Acceptance allows you to evaluate the situation dispassionately and choose an imperfect path forward.
Ultimately, the right to choose assignments is earned by successfully completing tough assignments. Make yourself proud. Bring your best self to every situation. At this moment, I feel you are distracted and negative.
Don’t blame your boss for your weight gain. You can’t criticize your boss and expect him to happily jump on your team at the same time.
It may be hard to hear right now, but it’s the dark days that make us. I believe that you have the power to take control of your future, if you stop giving so much power to others.
Finally, you quoted something I wrote at the beginning or your email. “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t become who you were meant to be.” Congratulations for saying what you think. You might consider creating a Circle of Success where you can say what you think and have better results.
You have my best,
What suggestions do you have for Stressed Out?
Dear stressed out,
Identify the root of your stress, is it the Boss or the dysfunctional team? Which can you deal with the best?
Seek alignment with others who want to work with you to better team as Dan pointed out
if you build the team to work together perhaps the Boss is looking for someone to do it, perhaps as a Leadership role! Life’s challenges are footsteps who h turn into leaps if you channel the energy in the right direction.
Thanks Tim. I feel compassion in your response.
Like you, I believe that leaders are looking for people to step up and make a difference, not escape difficult situations. Perhaps, rather than asking to get out, it would be good to seek guidance from the boss about how to thrive on the team.
I wish I would have thought of that when I wrote this morning’s post. 🙂
I want to think consulting the Boss on team building a solution is the way to go.
In regards to compassion yes that’s me, meek and mild.
Nice insight Tim.
It does align to the boss’s behaviour that was described. An opportunity ripe for the picking.
Thank you! I also appreciate that you respect the confidentiality of readers. You wrote something very interesting which seemed like contradictory to me. You said “Don’t blame your boss for your weight gain. You can’t criticize your boss and expect him to happily jump on your team at the same time.” On other side you say “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t become who you were meant to be.”
I am really confused. So if you are trying to tell your boss that how stressed you are in this terrible team that you gained 19 pounds of weight then i think that you said that would be taken as criticizing my boss then How do i say what i think?
I don’t know it is my gift or my curse that i always tell the truth. I told him that Bible says “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” This i told my Boss about my lead who he wanted me to follow not about my Boss. Still he does nothing.
I am sure many people are going through the same situation and getting into trouble for being themselves. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am having hard time trying to be just Me but so far i couldn’t be someone else. Life is not easy for me for following what you wrote and what Ralph Waldo Emerson says.
Thank you very much! I wish theory and real life scenarios were not so different. You can say what you think if you don’t need a job otherwise keep changing jobs. You can change Countries, states, faces but you will attract the same experience. Thanks
I don’t think the two statements are contradictory. A lot of communication is in the how. How are we presenting the issue, what points are we bringing to the table from a business or personnel perspective. And what solutions are we attempting to implement if there is an issue. We can’t blame our coping mechanisms on our bosses; it’s a personal issue that could and should be resolved outside of the workplace by finding alternate ways to cope.
We can tell our boss what the issue is, from our perspective, and try to find ways to solve for them to make the situation better. Saying the situation is stressful is absolutely acceptable. If I tried to blame my boss for the amount of cigarettes I smoke (I know, it’s an awful habit I need to quit) I can tell you it wouldn’t go over well. But when I express my frustration over lack of progress or cohesiveness in a group or project I am a part of, we work together to find solutions that I can drive and/or escalate the issue if needed.
As long as you keep delivering, you boss won’t do anything. Why would they? While you keep doing things then your negative health effects don’t matter. I think you seriously need to get out. Any organisation that is prepared to let this happen to you is not one you should be working with.
Focus on those things that you can control, not those things you cannot control.
Nice reminder Jim. I a,so wonder if the focus on the boss isn’t the answer, just to main frustration. How can we influence the team dynamic and change from dysfunction to base function to production. It is something you would expect the leader to influence, but in that absence it is also something we can lead and do with our peers.
A better question would likely to list why the team is dysfunctional, I.e. What behaviours are indicating this, and seek guidance on how you can influence this towards a better culture.
Stressed Out might consider asking the boss how he/she can effectively contribute to this project team versus complaining about being on the team and blaming the boss for weight gain. That was a first for me, really? This boss may be placing Stressed Out on this team because he/she wants him to quit or on a positive note the boss placed Stressed Out on the team to test how effective Stressed Out can be on the team.
Again, Stressed Out needs to focus on what he/she can control/contribute versus on the dysfunctional aspect of the team assuming Stressed Out isn’t the team leader.
“The boss” has placed Stressed Out on the team because stressed out will deliver. The boss doesn’t care what the costs to Stressed Out are. Like Dillon said in Predator “You’re an asset. An expendable asset. And I used you to get the job done, got it?” What this boss is doing is placing the health and safety of their staff at risk in order to deliver results. Stress kills people, as surely as falls or exposure to chemical agents. But of course, in the world where profit is the only true metric and the whole workforce can suffer provided the customer is happy, well, that’s what you have to do, right?
Mitchk999 you are very right what you wrote about Dillon. Problem what i see is i am on that project for one reason only and that is to show the right players that someone is working on that project when you are just monitoring your monitor for 8 hours.
Dan, i don’t remember when but i definitely remember one time you wrote “When good people don’t succeed, consider the possibility that management is the issue”
There is so much in me to offer but i am sitting their just wondering what is God trying to teach me by putting me in this horrible situation.
Just a piece of advise to people who are God fearing, never ask God for Patience. Asking God for Patience was my Mistake i believe.
God is answering my prayer of Patience by putting me under so much stress, painful circumstances, Boss who sees my pain but has different motives i guess.
Literally no project, No team (We don’t do anything, teams between team)
If my boss was nice, i had a good project, good team, healthy circumstances, how would God teach me patience. I don’t need patience when everything is working the way i want it to work. I need patience mostly when all the hell is breaking loose. Just a thought to think about.
I like how you didn’t enable stressed out by agreeing and commiserating with them. Friends, colleagues and family do that all the time thinking they are helping. A refreshing and informative post Dan!
No one is blaming Boss for weight gain. Weight Gain was the consequence of terrible project and dysfunctional team. Sometimes projects exist because of unknown reasons and then you get punished during performance appraisal since there was nothing to do in the project.
When I told my boss that I want to work with professionals and he told me no one is unprofessional over here. I have never seen any unprofessionalism. How do you tell him Of course you didn’t see unprofessionalism because you were wearing Boss hat?
When you will be wearing Boss hat then you will see everyone at their best behavior but I ask every Boss if you really want to know the character of your employees then don’t see how they treat you, they will be nice to you, see how they treat people who can do nothing for them.
Take a hard look at the situation. Can you be successful even if it is stressful? Can you do anything different to remedy the stress outside of work? Walk, hike etc? This doesn’t sound like it is a quick fix issue. Are the other benefits of working there worth what you are going through? I’m sure when you really look at all your options the best one will show itself.
BB, i don’t know how to be successful if i am twiddling my thumbs for 8 hours. You can’t change the status quo because Certain people always want to maintain the status quo.
I can change the job but as Dan said “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t become who you were meant to be.” So i will repeat the same things means i will tell the truth, then i know Faces will Change but my Circumstances and my experience will still remain the same unless i start enjoying twiddling my thumbs.
I ask God every night especially the day i receive my Check did i really earn this check? I do Yoga, Spend time reading books especially Bible since we read all Books but Bible is the only book which reads us and changes us. Thanks
P, “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t become who you were meant to be.” does not mean “If you can’t say what you think, you can’t get your way.” I hear you blaming your boss and God, but not taking any responsibility for your circumstances.
You said “What happens when you say what you think and you get into trouble?” What “trouble” did you get into? I think the trouble you are referring to is not getting what you want.
Maybe your boss is doing what Dan suggested in an earlier post (https://leadershipfreak.blog/2017/01/27/the-three-dumbest-things-leaders-do-when-things-are-going-well/) Don’t “Pollute successful teams with poor performers, foot draggers, and complainers. Put chronic complainers on the same team.” Maybe that is why you are on a “horrible team.”
This is a fantastic conversation going on here.
Stressed Out…is there anything you can do to step and lead the dysfunctional team to greener pastures? Something I’ve learned over the years of good and bad bosses is that, despite what they were doing, there was always a common factor in each situation…Me.
Now that could mean I was the cause of the good and/or the bad, but it also means that I’m the common factor that I can do something about. And, when reflecting on the past, I’ve always found that I could have made different decisions. I could have acted differently, done more, done less, etc. But I could control that.
I agree with others, find what you can control…but don’t overlook stepping up and changing your environment through leadership if possible.
I sense that you’re bringing the problem to your boss to solve and also saying that there’s only one solution. I suggest bringing the problem into a discussion with your boss to ask for some guidance on how you can steer things on the project in a way that feels more productive for you. It feels like the project is a difficult one, regardless of who is on it. But rather than jumping to assumptions for why you’re a part of it (boss doesn’t care, boss is trying to make me unhappy, boss is trying to make me leave or even my boss wants to boost me up with a crazy challenge), just ask for some help along the way. This seems like a way to leverage your boss as an ally, rather than bringing them the problem to solve and assuming they don’t care because they don’t solve it for you (with your single solution). “I’d like your help to improve my contribution on this difficult project” sounds a whole lot different than “I need you to take me off this crappy project”. One way says “let’s work together and I value your leadership to help me”, while the other says that only one solution is acceptable (remove me from the project).
Easy solutions are pretty rare. But sometimes how we handle the nastiest of situations can be huge growing opportunities that help us tackle more nasties in the future or even prevent them from feeling nasty in the first place. Anybody can handle the easy stuff, but leaders rise up to take on the tough things. Nobody is ever perfect at taking on tough challenges, but we can definitely learn to handle them better while we mature/grow as leaders. I can look back at times when I was livid over a situation that wouldn’t bug me at all now, so I’m very fortunate to have grown in a way to handle things better. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is to go after the needed action early and also to not allow huge negatives to continue in a way I can’t tolerate.
I hope you come away from this situation with some valuable learning that helps you to lead better (in all directions) in the future. And from the outside with no view to look in, I also hope you find a way to make great things happen on this difficult project and that you shine from your contribution. Wouldn’t that be a great outcome from an assignment that once bothered you tremendously?
So appreciating Mary’s perspective on ways to bring boss into a discussion mode rather than assuming that there is only one way to deal with the challenge. Fascinating to read various viewpoints. Positively, Pauline