Five Things Your Controlling Leader Won’t Tell You Part Two

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Understanding the way your boss thinks and responding as a servant leader or follower can improve your workplace experience. In part one of this blog we looked at five “secrets” about controlling leaders. Here in part two are some suggestions for responding to your controlling leader as a serving follower.

1. Consider having a mindset of empathy.

This can be difficult especially when you are being treated poorly. Still, it’s worth the effort to view your leader’s hidden insecurities empathetically. This shift in thinking opens the door for you to demonstrate your support of your leader’s efforts and affirm your desire and availability to help. This in turn might change your leader’s approach.

2. Guard against owning or making your controlling leader’s poor behavior about you. 

Your leader’s controlling behavior is often about their insecurities. Ensure your emotional wellbeing by refusing to own their poor behavior.

3. Be patient (as much as possible). 

Your leader’s fears and responses did not originate overnight, so expect that change will take time. If you have found a means to convey your concerns, decide how long you are willing to wait for change.

4. Be familiar with effective use of your organization’s chain of command. 

Whenever possible, direct and honest feedback is the best approach for handling any disagreement. In the case of being mistreated or poorly led, a best-case scenario allows you to approach your leader and find them receptive. Since leaders are not always receptive to direct feedback, become familiar with internal tools i.e. employee 360 surveys, feedback tools, etc. and consider using existing structures to share unresolved leadership failures.

5. Practice Servant Followership. 

During a tumultuous period at work a mentor of mine once advised me to focus on adding value to the organization. This was great advice. It’s often said that what we focus on will become our reality. Practicing servant followership by identifying the relationships between your work and other aspects of the organization, conceptualizing. Doing so can reframe your mindset and reenergize you at work. Because control and demand leaders are typically interested in outcomes, it’s important to understand the controlling leader’s expectations and meet them. Still, by refocusing on broader organizational relationships and engaging in external community, you can infuse purpose into your work and reduce the negative impact of a command and control environment.

Malcolm A. Hankins is a public servant, non-profit chair and keynote speaker. His focus is on ministry, leadership effectiveness, employee relations, and community engagement.