Which would you rather do:
🤔 Fix your boss?
🤔 Or get promoted to the executive suite?
Because you can only pick one.
The desire to fix your boss is something that’s come up a lot recently inside my Executive Ahead of Time and Leadership Table coaching programs.
And to be honest, it’s something that’s come up in my business recently as well.
(ie. I have also been the boss that someone wanted to fix.)
The problem with fixing your boss is that it holds you back from doing what you need to do to advance your career.
And the solution is to stop working on your boss and to start working on yourself.
So in this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I’ll give you a very specific, actionable process so you can stop trying to fix your boss and step into your unique executive presence instead.
Want to receive the recognition you deserve, step into a higher leadership position, get paid for your ideas instead of the hours you put in at work, and enjoy more time, freedom, energy, and joy? Then you need to get your hands on a copy of Promotions Made Easy. Get your copy here.
What You'll Learn:
- A vulnerable story of someone trying to fix me
- Why you need to stop waiting for your boss to change
- Two simple sentences that will help you stop trying to fix your boss and step into executive leadership instead
- Why it doesn’t matter if your boss changes or not
- Signs you are endangering your relationship with your boss (and how to fix it)
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Follow me on Instagram
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time, so you can also access my 8-week intensive on executive presence
- Get your copy of my book, Promotions Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Executive Suite
- Go to StacyMayer.com/Strategies to join my email list and receive my email series, Seven Promotion Strategies that Your Boss Won’t Tell You
Your next promotion is within your control, and this podcast shows you how to get there. Welcome to episode number 147. In today's episode, I am giving you a very specific and much needed process to stop trying to fix your boss and worry about what you can start doing to step into your own executive presence today. Listen on.
Hello corporate badasses. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited to be here with you again this week.
So today's episode is based on two different things that are happening, both for me personally and then also with all of the corporate badasses that I'm working with, both inside of Executive Ahead of Time and my advanced Leadership Table program, and that is this overwhelming desire to fix your boss.
And I'm going to get a little raw and vulnerable to start this episode. And it actually, I have to be completely honest, it feels incredibly uncomfortable to share in this way, but I think it's important to illuminate how I, as the boss, experience another person, another human being, trying to change me and make me a better boss. And then I'm going to offer up to you the the coaching that I often coach women on how they can't you can't fix your boss anyway, and also why this is actually hindering you and holding you back. So most of the episode will be about the second part.
But the vulnerable share for you is recently I had an executive assistant on my team and she was not getting what she needed from me as her boss. And I think that, well, first and foremost, I think everything happens for a reason. And so I'm going to say I think she went about it the wrong way. But I do believe that everything happens for a reason. And so I am grateful in the long run, because what it did is it forced me to really look at how I'm building my business. What is my org chart look like? What does it look like in terms of growth and where am I headed and what kind of support am I going to need on my team in order to realize my three X vision? And so, it really couldn't have happened at a better time. It really it forced me to take stock. And I'm a huge believer in owning everything that happens to you. And so I'm not saying that I don't take responsibility for this. Looking back on it, I think it just wasn't a great fit. Awesome.
But the lesson learned when I received a very detailed email about all of the different things that I did not provide her as a boss really hit home. It hit hard because what she was basically talking about was context, vision, understanding. That I was simply delivering a bunch of tasks to her and telling her what to do versus empowering her to be the best support for me. And obviously as a leader, I would encourage all of you to empower your team members. That is a huge part of leadership and we have to find ways to empower others around us.
And so without going into all of the details as to why I didn't empower her, why I felt disempowered as a leader working with her. But what I do want to offer you is how I took that email, which was basically like: I'm no longer going to be working with you and here's all the things that you do wrong. If we just sort of look at that and I'm not trying to fix myself or even deflect the ownership of the work that I can do as a leader. I was like: Wow, this reminds me of what I'm constantly coaching my corporate badasses on, which is do not wait for your boss to change. Stop waiting for your boss to change and do what you need to do to feel like a leader, to feel empowered, to feel amazing at your job. Really, seriously stop trying to fix your boss. And my sense is, is that there had been I mean, we really only worked together for two months, so it's not like there was a lot of effort on either of our parts.
But it was stop trying to think that I was supposed to change and instead change yourself. And changing yourself could mean leaving, right? Totally. 100%. No problem. No harm, no foul. But so often I hear from you all that you're so. Frustrated with your boss and you don't like your job because of your boss and you're you're not able to be the leader that you want to be because of your boss.
And so today's episode is a really huge call to action to say, please, please, I beg you, stop trying to fix your boss and work on yourself. Figure out what you need to do to step into that leadership role, to start to communicate in a different way that gets you what you need from your boss. Do you see where I'm headed is that we can actually do certain things to get what we need from our boss without changing them.
So let me give you a very basic example. In module one of Executive Ahead of Time, I break down how you can start to get out of the weeds, how you can start to communicate in a different way that's not about your scorecard or a weekly check in about all the tasks that you're working on. This was the story is that I, as a leader, was communicating in tasks. But it goes everything goes both ways. Start communicating to the vision first and then get into the details, into the weeds. So some people will tell me that my boss is very detail oriented. My boss is totally in the weeds, My boss is very busy. My boss only wants to hear the details. My boss doesn't want to talk about the vision, all of that stuff.
And so then you go into your weekly 1:1's, you refuse to talk about how you see the vision. You just go right into the weeds because that's what you think that your boss wants. And then it's this perpetual cycle of you feeling underappreciated. And then I guess your boss is kind of getting what they want. Maybe, maybe not. But the problem really comes down to you aren't in an integrity. You're not showing up as the leader that you want to be showing up with to your boss. Instead, you're just saying, well, this is just the way it is. So here's a perfect example. Let's say your boss is not willing to change. All they care about is the details. All they do is go into the weeds every single time. That is just the way it is. A very simple thing that you can begin to implement this week is as you start every single conversation with your boss, just say: before we get into things, I want to reiterate why are we working on this project? State what you think why you're working on this project, what the greater impact is to the organization. Come up with your one or two sentences. These can be the exact same sentences at every single weekly 1:1. They don't have to be complicated. If you're not sure how to come up with these sentences, get an Executive Ahead of Time so I can tell you what to say for you specifically with your boss. You're going to come up with that language that you say like clockwork every single week and then go into the weeds. Then go into all the details. Then go into whatever your boss needs from you. But at the beginning of every single conversation, you're going to start out with your vision for the project, your vision for what you're working on, your understanding of what the organization needs, how this is impacting the company. How you're looking at the bigger picture.
One of two things... Well, actually, one of three things are going to happen when you do this. The absolute guaranteed thing that's going to happen automatically is that you're going to change. You're going to check in about different things that you're working on in a very different way, because when we have to communicate that vision, we get very clear on what the vision actually is. When we have to say that out loud, week after week after week, what's going to happen is you're going to pick one, one or two sentences and you're going to say it and parts of it aren't going to feel right. It feels weird. Maybe that's not totally true. Maybe your boss doesn't buy into it. Maybe the CEO doesn't care about that thing. Once you start to say things out loud to other human beings, you realize where your gaps are. So then the next week you say it again and you tweak it a little bit. So you start to get clearer on what the vision is.
And what ends up happening for you is your executive presence increases because now you're showing up as that executive leader for yourself first. You were actually turning into a person who thinks and communicates like an executive leader simply with two sentences a week. That's it. Your boss does not have to change. Your boss doesn't have to like those two sentences. Your boss could literally roll their eyes every single time you say those two sentences. I don't care what your boss thinks about those two sentences. But what I do care about is how you're changing, how you're taking ownership, how you're showing up for your boss, because that's going to fundamentally change you.
Now, the second thing is, is your boss might start to change. I have seen this happen over and over again where the boss starts to slow down. The boss wants to have a more visionary conversation. The boss wants to unpack what you're talking about a little bit more. A lot of times, in my particular vulnerable case, if she had brought up to me some of these things, I would have had a 45 minute conversation with her about it. Of course I would, because it taps to my core values. It taps to everything that I care about. The problem is, is that as bosses, we're constantly on autopilot. And I have to own that. I have to course correct going forward. Again, everything happens for a reason. I look at this as a huge learning opportunity for me. So when you start to communicate this way, it's possible that your boss might actually change. It's also possible they may not change.
And the third thing is, it's possible they may recognize you accordingly for the corporate badass that you are. How amazing would that be? Oh my gosh, you have such a great understanding of how to communicate this. You know what? I'm going to let you present the slides at our board meeting next Tuesday. You see how this works. So it doesn't actually matter if your boss changes or not. What starts to really matter is how you're showing up, who you are and how you're communicating with your boss. Are you communicating as an executive leader or are you communicating as a subject matter expert? And that is 100% within your control to start shifting and changing yesterday. You can start changing that right now. Absolutely. Right now.
The second example I want to give you today is an example of a woman who's actually a senior vice president at her organization. She reports directly into the CFO. And a lot of times has to present to the CEO, and it's very difficult for her because what she wants to communicate about and what she wants to talk about, what she's working on, her boss and the CEO don't actually care about at all. And it's constantly frustrating because the work that she's doing on a daily basis, not that it's in the weeds, but her vision, what she's working on, how she's making decisions are very different than what her boss and the CEO, how they're making decisions, what they're working on. And so my coaching for her is actually to not change what it is that she's working on and how she's making decisions and what she's doing. But instead of trying to beat that into her boss's head, she's actually going to stop talking about it just temporarily. She's going to literally stop communicating what matters to her. Now, this is going to suck and you're going to be like: but, but, but, but, but. But no, she's going to stop communicating what matters to her. And for a couple of months time, she's only going to communicate what matters to her CFO and what matters to her CEO. And that is it. She is not going to talk about all the other stuff. She's just going to be a senior vice president, kick ass in her job, talk about all that stuff to her team, to her peers, but to the CFO and the CEO, she's not going to communicate anything that she thinks doesn't actually matter to them.
All right. And so what will start to happen there is she's going to have more conviction in her leadership because she's going to be not constantly put down. She is putting herself in a consistent, vulnerable place to do the work that she's empowered to do in her role by needing the approval of the other people. So she starts to become the autonomous leader that she really wanted to be all along and just start making those decisions. And quite frankly, her CFO and her CEO could care less about what she's doing. There's and that is not a bad thing. There's a lot of trust built right there. Not nitpicking on her work at all. At all. That's your job. Go do it. We're happy that you're doing it. I don't want to do that role. Great. Keep going.
But what she has to do is start communicating to what matters to them, because this shows them that she can be trusted to communicate at that executive level, that she understands how to tailor the messaging based on the audience. This is a huge part of executive presence, understanding how to manage up, understanding how to communicate, what actually matters to the person listening versus what matters to you.
So now this is what's going to happen is, like I already said, she's in integrity. She's doing her job better because she's not constantly being feeling bad about what she's doing. And so that just she feels more empowered in her current role. She starts to shift her communication with the executive team. They trust her a little bit more. And so they're like: Oh, she's really getting it now is basically what they're saying.
And she's like: Well, no, I just started reporting what you cared about, not what I cared about. But from their end they're like: she gets it, she gets it. And that's what we want is we want the executive team to understand that we get it. That's how we start to get more inclusion in the conversations is when we "get it". And let's say they don't change at all. They don't think that she gets it. Really what ends up happening is they stop asking her questions. She's able to do her job even better. She's able to move up in her expertise, what she cares about, what she actually wants to do. And she's just swimming in her own lane. And that is a fantastic place to be, especially once you get to those higher level SVP and C-suite positions. Just enjoy your own swim lane. We don't have to dip over into other people's very often once we're at those levels.
So do you see where this is headed? That we end up stop caring about our boss and what they think? But then what we do in our action is tell them what they need to hear. That is not changing them, that is owning our own behaviors and saying, you know what? This doesn't actually matter. I don't need to convince them that the work that I'm doing is important because it is important. And I'm going to start working on it. And then eventually they might start asking about what she's working on. Oh, great. You'd like to know. I just made the company $50,000. I just made I just signed a $1 billion contract. I'm doing everything that I told you I would do. Now you're really being included in the conversation.
And the last example I wanted to give you is from a woman inside of Executive Ahead of Time who was so frustrated with her boss and through 15-Minute Ally Meetings, she has developed a really beautiful relationship with her boss's boss. And this is going really, really great. And she's just like: Man, he gets me. I love our conversations. They're so easy. I want to tell him about all the things that I'm working on. And essentially what she's starting to do is go around her boss. She's only talking to her boss boss, and she can already sense that she is endangering her relationship with her boss.
And 99% of the time, this is a losing game. So my advice to her is if she feels like she's going around her boss's back, she 100% is going around her boss's back and she needs to stop. Now, this can feel really crappy because you're like: Why do I have to build a relationship with this person that I don't even like when I could just talk to this other person that I do like? And the truth is, we work for organizations, we work with human beings. There is a huge part of our job that requires us to connect and communicate with so many different people. And so that's part of our job. And as we transition to even higher positions and move away from our subject matter expertise, our job really becomes about relationships and navigating relationships. And that can be an absolutely beautiful thing. There is so much freedom in that idea of really actually being a leader, and I personally think it's a beautiful place. It's definitely my goal and it's where I'm headed and I want to be that inspirational, empowering leader. I don't want to just be a task manager by any means. This is so not my intention and the work that I want to be doing and the work that I, I am capable of doing at the executive leadership level.
So for this woman, what I suggested to her is, first of all, know that if you feel like you're going around your boss's back, you are and this will never end well. And so I'm glad she asked. And then I suggested to include her boss in the conversation.
So in your conversations with your boss, what you're going to do is you're going to just share some of the similar things that you are sharing with your boss, boss with your boss as well, and make it much more condensed knowing that he's not going to respond or he may not care or he may not want to hear more details about it. But what you're doing is you're keeping your looping him in on the strategy. You're not keeping anything from him. Now, again, don't have the expectation that he's going to care, but you're going to keep talking about it over and over and over again and you're going to share. And like I said, in very condensed ways, one sentence here and there. Write two sentences here and there, really just being very forthright about what matters to you, what you care about. And so then that way, when there is this idea that you have more strategic conversations with your boss boss, then he doesn't feel like you kept that from him. You've been sharing that all along.
Now we can't control our boss and we can't control how they're going to feel. They might still be jealous, they might be frustrated, they might be annoyed and all of those great things. But by looping them in, we're actually taking the high road. We're not playing the game of ignoring and shutting out and being passive aggressive and all of those things, those icky emotions that we don't want to exude as a leader. We're really just saying, Hey, let's have a group conversation about this. I mean, maybe it could even be a suggestion to this obstacle with your boss's boss, which is, in one of those conversations, you just say: hey, why don't we have a group conversation about this? Why don't we schedule a meeting where all three of us can meet? Because I don't I don't want to keep such and such out of the loop.
You can be very, very open and and come over communicative about what's happening. And when you do that, you lessen the risk of somebody just being blankly mad at you. They might not like it or love you, but they kind of probably already feel that way, right? So it's all about your own personal integrity and that you're driving the ship and that you're not waiting for somebody else to change and you're doing what you need to do to begin communicating at that executive level.
When you start to do that, you increase your own ability to trust yourself, and you also open up the possibility that other people on the executive team can start to trust you as well and bring you into the conversation.
So that's my call to action for the week is to stop trying to fix your boss and figure out what you can start owning instead and what decisions you want to make in terms of your own executive presence and how you really want to show up as that executive leader.
Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next week. Bye!
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.