Career Woman

Challenging leader? It’s all in the perspective!


Having a challenging leader or even one you just can’t seem to find common ground with and align your ways of working to can be tough. Having colleagues you’re just not on the same page with is a given, but when you feel like your leader doesn’t have trust in your performance, create opportunity for you to grow or just isn’t ‘in your corner’, it can change how you feel not only about yourself but also your role and the company.

Like most situations however, this is one of the times where you might not be able to take stock immediately of the situation, but sometimes finding yourself reporting to someone who just doesn’t get you, your approach or leave any idea without a rebuttal, can be one of the best growth opportunities of your career. It’s all in your perspective!

If you can’t relate, chances are you are one of the lucky women who to date has been blessed, or you’ve already began to master some of the things I’m going to share next. If you’re sitting there reading this mentally rejoicing that it isn’t just you, then let me share with you my top three lessons I’ve learnt along my career to help you make the most out of your relationship with your leader.

1. Take the opportunity to learn to manage up and adjust your own approach.

Leaders are no different to colleagues and it’s important to remember that just because they hold a title, it doesn’t always mean they have mastered the perfect leadership capability and style. But it is their ship so to speak and they’re setting the direction.  So you can both give some career defining feedback and manage up if you’re comfortable to do so, or do some self-reflection about what you can shift in your own style create shift in the relationship. If you know approaching something a certain way always ends in frustration, can you go about it differently? Is there a different way to build influence, impact and relations with them? After all, if you feel like they’re hard to work with, you want to ensure you aren’t adding to this and being perceived the same way.

2. Take the opportunity to learn to self-regulate your emotions and response.

Not to say that you aren’t already doing so, but really take some time to think about the head space you work from when it comes to your interactions. Are you defensive or assuming the worst before you even have an interaction and unconsciously setting the scene? And if the worst is warranted, how much energy are you putting in to this? It’s true what they say about positivity breading positivity, and positive thought is far more conducive to your personal branding and making the right impression on other stakeholders. It may not make the relationship less challenging, but it will make it less frustrating and give you more energy to put into those around you and to ensuring you are delivering at the top of your game.

3. Let their style strengthen your own and take away from it what you don’t want to be within your own authentic style.

These days most of us aren’t in roles or sometimes even companies for decades before progressing up down and all around the figurative career ‘ladder’. So remember to make the most of every minute of your career and take in all the lessons you can from those around you. Often watching others in action on the job is on the best ways to learn, even if sometimes this means learning what for you personally is a not to do. Growth in the workplace is a never ending journey and one of the worst things you could do is think that your challenging leader has nothing to add to yours.

So next time you’re frustrated by your leader. Take a deep breath and remind yourself it’s a learning moment and choose your perspective.

About Carly Green

A senior HR business partner, young mother and wife with an incomparable zest for life, Carly Green is an advocate for women in the workplace. Carly is a leader passionate about integrating motherhood and career and shares this with a broad network of professional females. Her personal mission: to show that you can successfully have both, if you want to.

Recommended for you

What Do You Think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *