Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t mention his or her frustrations with the leadership at their workplaces. Maybe you’re hearing the same things. Or maybe you can relate with your own work leadership. Or maybe you’re a leader who has your own set of frustrations about your employees.
Stories about leaders in workplaces who are “good” people (meaning, he or she is generally a good person) but constantly make bad decisions for the team are more common than not. Whether a leader isn’t fully qualified for the job, has lost passion for the company’s mission, or just not the right fit for a leadership role, employees are forced to make the best of the situation for the sake of the mission at hand.
Good decision-makers can be few or far-between these days. The emotional and mental weight that comes with making major business decisions requires a leader who might who doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve. Being a good decision-maker requires an individual who may not always be popular and who doesn’t mind having a few enemies. And ultimately, being a good decision-maker requires an individual who can discern right from wrong.
So how can we respond when “good” leaders make bad decisions in the workplace? After taking a poll from several friends in various career fields, here are some ways to thrive in the midst of poor leadership:
1. Stay focused on the task at hand. Remember what you signed up for. If you’ve committed to a role or position on your team, the task or mission should be where you pour your energy. Keep the interests your end user, customer, or audience as your priority.
2. Pick up the slack when possible. You can either be a part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution. When your leader drops the ball or lacks necessary passion, pick up the ball and keep things moving. The worst that can happen is that somebody will notice your own passion and desire for excellence. Ultimately, you don’t have to have the name plate of director, manager, or supervisor on your door or desk to lead and lead well.
3. Keep a positive outlook. As much as discouragement and frustration wants to conquer your passion, let endurance and hope drive your daily attitude. Prepare yourself each morning to face the day ahead. Set aside time to refuel before you head into work. Ideas: pray, read Scripture, read blogs or articles that relate to your work, make lists of projects to conquer, or research creative inspiration from people or companies who do similar work.
4. Pray for your leadership. Quite frankly, if you’re frustrated or angry with your leadership, this one should be atop your list. In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus reminds us, “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” Humility always wins–every time. Your leaders need you to pray for them.
5. Make yourself indispensable. If you believe you are valuable and important to your team, strive daily to make yourself indispensable. Prove your value daily by doing excellent work. Always push your creative limits to the max. In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin describes indispensable employees as people who figure out what to do when there’s no rule book; they consider their work as a form of art. Be someone who makes a real difference.
6. Offer wisdom when possible. Believe it or not, even the best leaders covet wisdom from their team players. Don’t be afraid to offer wisdom, words of encouragement, or suggestions to your leaders. Guard against arrogance or being overconfident, but rather approach your leaders with respect, humility, and genuine passion when you have something to share or suggest. You might just be surprised at how they respond.
Above all, love your work, pour your best self into it, and remember why you do it. Even if your leader fails, you can rest confidently in knowing that you did your best and remained faithful.