Why you don’t need to be the boss to be in charge

Have you ever had a boss that couldn’t manage a team? The sort of boss that everyone either gets frustrated with, hates or ignores?

To give them credit, it’s not always their fault. They may have been promoted because they did their previous job really well then, they were put in charge of a team with no real training on how to best lead them. They might be genuinely trying their hardest but not really being very effective.

Regardless of how they came to be the boss, though, if you, and others, feel you can’t communicate well with them or you don’t believe they are doing a good job, then your workplace culture is probably not good.

Mikey Ellis is an experienced educator, facilitator and speaker specialising in human behaviour and building revolutionary company culture. In his presentation, Beyond engagement: How to align your team to your mission, given as part of Florence Guild’s speaker series, ’The Art of Focus’, Mikey defined workplace culture as ‘what people feel when they come into your workplace’. It can also be what you say when you’re asked what it’s like to work there. Do you tell people that you love your job? Do you feel satisfied at the end of the day that you have done something of value? Do you feel as though your efforts have been recognised? Or, do you feel disempowered or need to let off steam at the end of each day?

Are you part of the problem?

It’s one thing to blame the boss, but communication is a two-way street. You (and your workmates) play a role in the shaping of your workplace’s culture. Even if you are not aware of it, how you respond to an ineffective boss will help to determine just how negative your workplace becomes. For example, do you:

– Get drawn into ‘bitch’ sessions about your boss or others around you?
– Constantly complain about the things you see aren’t working well.
– Only put in enough effort to get by because you don’t see why you should bother doing more.

Motivational speaker, business educator, and author, Terry Hawkins, developed the characters Pitman® and Flipman® over 20 years ago to help us understand we have a choice in how we see the world. Pitman® lives in a pit that he created through his own negative thought patterns, such as “Nothing ever goes right for me”, or “I’m no good at ….”. Anyone walking nearby can get sucked into his ‘Pit of Despair’ if they are not careful and can end up living down there with him.

So, if you are in a Pitman® state, having an ineffective boss is likely to make you grumble and groan even more and maybe turn others around you into Pit people, too.

Could you be part of the solution?

Flipman®, on the other hand, recognises that life has its challenges, but he always tries to find a way to overcome them, or ‘flip’ them around. He can even help others climb up out of their pits if they’ll let him.

  • What if you decided to flip your situation around, too? Here are some things you can start doing right now.
  • Ditch the bitching. Don’t get drawn into other people’s pits. Walk away if you have to.
  • Be genuinely nice to people.
  • If you notice someone doing something well, tell them.
  • Show interest in those around you. Ask them what they got up to on the weekend. Learn the names of the people important to them. Above all, listen to their replies without judgement.
  • Smile, even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Be ethical, honest, and diplomatic.
  • Do your job to the best of your ability. Go the extra mile and try and help those around you.
  • Stay calm. Don’t sweat the small stuff and learn how to cope better when things go pear-shaped. Just focus on finding a way forward that works for everyone.

If you behave in ways that others like and appreciate, they’ll start to look to you as someone they can trust. If you start working in ways that get results, others will start to follow you. It doesn’t matter if you are not the boss, you can still make a difference. As Mikey said in his presentation:

“The influence you have should not be dependent on the behaviour of a leader. If you have a leader that is saying one thing and doing another, it doesn’t mean that everything is stuffed and that we are all doomed. Speak up and say, “I think we can do this differently”. You should never underestimate the influence you can have on somebody else, even one other person. That’s how momentum starts. Let’s do something about it. Let’s not be a victim of the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Positivity is contagious, and you can be the one to start it spreading. Be a Flipman.®

This episode forms part of our 2018 series narrative, ‘The Art of Focus’ which is based on the premise that, in an information-dense society, our attention resources have become depleted. The series’ speakers will help us identify and explore the areas in our lives where we may need to regain focus, increase our self-awareness and improve how we interact with those around us.

If you’d like to hear more of Mikey Ellis’ recorded conversation, Beyond engagement: How to align your team to your mission, and learn how you can make changes like this in your life, tune in to episode 22 of our podcast series ‘The Art of Focus’. You can also keep up to date with conversations with other thought leaders by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

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