In general, no one likes being controlled. The nature of having a boss is a resentful one. My kids instinctively yell at each other ‘you’re not the boss of me‘ when one tries to tell the other what to do. That instinct to have self determination has fueled rebellions for all of human history. National identities are built on it. However, in the work world we don’t need to bring medieval fealty into it. Instead of resenting the boss or only doing what she asks, what if you became her partner?
Empathize with your boss
Ask yourself what you would do if you were in their shoes. As a leader or manager of teams what do you need? A boss will need self motivated people who can proactively take charge of the problems that arise in business and solve them. Every time you abdicate responsibility to your boss you are telling her that you can’t take care of the problem yourself. Sometimes approval is required. Still, you can bring all of the information and suggest options based on what you know. Bringing a fully formed decision shows your boss that you have considered all of the possibilities and can make an informed decision. It shows that you are capable of being a boss.
If you find yourself thinking that you can do better than your manager but you aren’t a proactive employee, then try switching roles. You are going to take on the frustrations that may lead to the same resentment you are now having. Instead, try helping your manager as much as humanly possible. Be their right hand man. Think ahead of where the problems are right now. Anticipate all of the possible problems that will come. Create plans to address as many of those possibilities as you can. Be her advocate, and make her look good to her superiors. Find out what her goals are and what she needs to make them happen. Then get to work solving her problems.
Control Your Destiny
You don’t have to be a manager to simply start doing their work. No one is going to tell you not to as long as you aren’t impeding someone else. By changing the questions you are asking and the problems you are trying to solve you automatically give yourself more responsibility and impact. Team up and make requests of your co-workers to help you with your manager’s objectives. Enrolling others in a way that is exciting and fun without forcing them creates leverage and is a sign of leadership.
Many managers simply tell their employees what to do. It is rare for an employee to go the extra mile and proactively solve a manager’s problems. As a boss you can’t help but notice this. They are human just like you and want to be able to delegate work to capable people. They’re naturally going to choose the person who demonstrates the best ability to get something done. The manager probably won’t care if you did the work or someone else, as long as it got done on time. When you make your bosses problems your problems this will happen automatically.
Fulfillment via growth
Now if you just want to get by and collect a check without making a real impact this isn’t a good deal for you. But when you think about what really fulfills you, growth is often a component. Staying where you are doing the same thing over and over is rarely going to do it. There are many ways to grow, not just in work or business. However, if you want to grow in your career or business start thinking how to grow your boss’s career and yours will take care of itself.
You may make a little more money, but the real fulfillment will be in increasing your capacity in your organization. Helping your team achieve is a way to give by growing the careers of others. Contribution to others is what really fills my heart with joy, and I suspect it may do the same for you.