How do you deal with a fist closed leader?

This post is in continuation to my last week’s post, ‘Hands open or fist closed leader’.

Many of us have had bosses who are ‘fist closed’ leaders. Dealing with such bosses for most parts, can be stressful, unpleasant and an experience that is not quite enjoyable.

I remember one of my managers saying that – In the professional world, as individuals, we can control 30% of what we do. The balance 70% is in the hands of external forces…

While this can be debatable, it does make an interesting point – to first look into what we control. In dealing with fist closed bosses, this may not be a bad approach at all!

While there is no one singular approach to dealing with this, what we can do is:

A self-check – Be honest to yourself about things

What is it about me that is causing this behavior? Am I not delivering on what is expected from me? Is it just me or is the boss’s behavior consistent with others as well?

If you genuinely feel you are a ‘victim’ of your boss’s actions, then before you go fighting and declare an all-out war:

Identify what in your eyes, is your boss’s idiosyncrasy or insecurity?

For example, we all have had bosses who want all the importance or will want to know everything to the nth detail (while you wonder if it’s really worth the boss’s money and if he/she has nothing better to do). Or do you have a boss who is lost and does not know what to do and hence you are at the receiving end.

An ambiguous boss is dangerous… so seek clarity. Ask what is expected and ensure you know how you will be measured. What will be accepted as success and what will be a performance issue. It is every employee’s right to know what is expected from him/her and how these expectations will be measured. And these need to be communicated periodically.

Set rules for yourself and have a baseline agreement with your boss

Once you have some level of clarity on the reason for the boss’s behavior, see what best can be done to manage it. Send the reports and data that is expected. Keep them in the loop, over communicate and provide an information overload. Ask for inputs, try and build trust if possible. Ensure you have constant periodic communication.

Put a timeline

While you try to do all of the above, put a timeline for yourself as to how long you will accept what is happening and how much is enough. Each person has to define their own tolerance limits and when it will be time to either escalate or make a decision. Balance is the operating word.

Finally, what you should not deal with

Anything to do with value, ethics or personal in nature should not be tolerated…

We do need to give things our best shot to make it work with our bosses, but also be aware of the cost we are paying and our thresholds for change. That is a choice no one can take away from us…