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Smarter Than Your Boss? Here’s How You Should Deal With It

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There is a lot of talk about how managers should go beyond their egos and hire employees smarter than themselves for the betterment of the company, and to promote continuous learning and development. However, what happens when you find yourself at the receiving end of this thought process and end up reporting to a manager who you feel is not as qualified as you are to do the job?

When we talk about bad manager traits such as lack of leadership skills, being biased, malicious or insensitive come to our minds. However, there is also a type of bad manager who is clueless, incompetent and under-qualified for the role.

So, what do you do when you are the employee who feels superior to their own boss? Here are the 6 ways to deal with this situation:

1. Focus on the job

You have on multiple occasions realized you are indeed smarter than your boss. If this is true, the first step is to eradicate that thought from your mind and look beyond it. If you hold onto it and let it play in your mind every time you interact with your boss, chances are you will be highly distracted.

Instead of whining about it, focus on the larger picture. Focus on what you are really in the company for. Your work is the only thing that matters as it is what will help you succeed. Cherish your time in your present company and do phenomenal work that can add value to your resume.

2. Work collaboratively

No matter how much you hate it, your boss and you are a team. While it’s frustrating to be taking more of the load due to someone else’s incapability, remember that working together as a team will only speak volumes about your work ethic and professionalism. In meetings with external departments, avoid belittling or correcting your boss.

While you need to work together as a unit, it doesn’t mean that you need to own up to all the mistakes he/she makes. If you feel you are getting wrongly accused, you have all the rights to involve the HR department in this discussion.

Look at it this way – this is your time to shine so ensure you maximize this opportunity and make the best of it. There are those who are stuck with bosses who don’t empower their subordinates so feel lucky that you have the opportunity and put your best foot forward.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

3. Look at the positives

There is always something we can learn from everyone we come across in our lives. Yes, your boss is not the most inspiring person, but there certainly ought to be some qualities you can imbibe. Observe closely. Is it their calm nature, positive outlook, delegating abilities or listening skills? What is it that you feel you lack and can learn from them?

Don’t dismiss your boss just because you consider yourself to be better at the job. Find qualities in your boss that are admirable and respect them for it. By doing so, you will be looking on the bright sight of the situation which will certainly help you work better with your boss.

4. Don’t be overconfident

In a situation like this, it is easy to become overconfident. However, you need to make a conscious effort to not turn into an arrogant, overconfident and pompous person at work because no one appreciates that. Before you know it, overconfidence will start getting reflected in your body language which can be highly detrimental to your career.

Always challenge your ideas and surround yourself with people who do so as well. Remember, just because you feel superior to your boss does not make you a know-it-all. There is never a dearth to learning and once you accept that, it can do wonders to your growth curve in the company. So, stay humble and grounded – it will make you a better leader in the future.

“Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement. Never be overconfident because that will block your improvement.” – Tony Jaa

5. Avoid gossiping

You might be tempted to share your concerns and frustrations with a fellow team member but never resort to gossiping or bad mouthing your manager. Word tends to spread in an office and that never ends well.

Gossiping only reflects badly on you and can lead to severe long-term implications which can affect your career. It’s always a smarter idea to stay on the good side of your boss, however annoyed you may be. There will always be those co-workers who might try and instigate you to get you talking but beware of such people and stay away from office politics.

6. Seek mentors elsewhere

It is important to have a mentor in your workplace – someone who guides you, shows you the right path and helps you move closer to your career goals. Many people seek mentorship in their managers but in such scenarios when you feel that you are clearly better at your work than he/she is, it is best to seek mentors in some other senior resource in the company.

Reach out to seniors in the company who you admire and feel you can learn more from because you need to learn and grow, and having a bad manager should not stop you from doing so.

Being smarter than your boss is a sticky scenario to be in but if approached with positivity and the right attitude, it can work in your favor too. Everyone has flaws and no one is perfect so stop cribbing and work together with your boss, as a unit. This is just one chapter of your career, so focus on the larger picture and be a resourceful, indispensable employee in order to take your career to greater heights!

How do you deal with struggles in your workplace? Let us know your thoughts and advice in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

Mindful Productivity: How Top Achievers Combine Focus and Balance

By being aware of your emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, you can work with your internal and external environments

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Your big-dream goals matter … but not at the expense of your health. (more…)

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Change Your Mindset

The Art of Convincing: 10 Persuasion Techniques That Really Work

The knack for persuading others can act as a catalyst for change, open doors, forge alliances, and effect positive change

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Persuasion is not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, it is something that we have been practicing since childhood. Do you remember convincing your parents to let you skip school, asking your teacher not to assign homework, or persuading your boss to give you a day off? Well, these are just small examples of what persuasion looks like. (more…)

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Success Advice

5 Steps to Leveraging Industry Speaker Events for Career Advancement

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it

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How to advance your career by networking

Jumping into industry events is a smart move for your career, but there’s a knack to it. It’s not just about sitting in a room full of people. You’ve got to find the ones that fit your career puzzle, dive in while you’re there, and then make the most of what you’ve learned afterward. (more…)

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Success Advice

Overcoming Plateaus: 6 Powerful Strategies for Breakthrough Success

A plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears

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In the pursuit of personal and professional growth, plateaus are inevitable. They appear when progress seems to halt, despite your continuous efforts. But remember, a plateau is not a full stop; it’s a comma that allows you to pause, reflect, and shift gears. This article provides six powerful strategies to overcome plateaus and achieve breakthrough success.

1. Find Out the Root Cause

When facing a plateau, there is likely something causing you to sabotage your progress. Identify the root cause. What is sabotaging your progress? Examine your daily routine and how you spend your time. Are you wasting time on unnecessary activities? Or are you taking on too many tasks that you can’t handle?

Often, adding more tasks overloads your already tight routine and distracts you from focusing on the most important tasks. Therefore, often eliminating unnecessary activity will work to overcome plateaus. However, be cautious of not doing things right, such as tasks you have not yet undertaken or missing something. What actions do you need to take or improve to achieve your goal? Are you avoiding them, or have you not started yet?

2. Never Tolerate Problems

Once you’ve identified the root cause, never tolerate problems. If you tolerate them, you’ll end up staying stuck. You get what you tolerate. Once you recognize the problem you’re facing, never tolerate it. Instead, address and improve the situation.

3. Focus on a 100% Solution and 0% Problems

To overcome a challenge, it’s essential to plan how to get through it. Yet, people often find themselves asking, ‘Why is it bad?’ or ‘What is wrong with it?’ Questions of this nature limit our thinking, leading our brains to generate responses like ‘Because you’re not good enough’ or ‘Everything is wrong with you.’ These limited answers tend to resonate with the situation and drag you down further.

Instead, ask empowering questions without limits, such as ‘What is not perfect yet, and how can I turn things around while making a more positive impact?’ By asking unlimited empowering questions, you’ll shift your focus from the problem to the solution. Additionally, you will also notice that asking empowering questions can expand available options and allow you to see from an angle you couldn’t see before.

Focusing on problems rarely yields positive outcomes. The key to positive results lies in concentrating on the solution. The next time you face adversity and notice getting caught by unresourceful thoughts, snap out of it and direct your focus to a 100% solution and 0% problems.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

4. Cultivate Success-Driven Traits

Identify the traits you need to have and get rid of to become the person you aspire to be. Consider your specific goals – for instance, attracting positive relationships. To achieve this, note down the traits you need to embrace, such as being open-minded, gentle, healthy, and treating others the way you want to be treated.

Cultivate a positive mindset. Simultaneously, get rid of traits like criticizing others, having a short temper, and engaging in unhealthy habits like taking drugs.

Learn from individuals who have achieved similar goals. Study their traits, both the ones they have and those they’ve consciously avoided. Implement these traits to align with the person you want to become.

Once you have your lists of traits to embrace and eliminate, diligently follow them. Place the list on your desk or the door of your room, ensuring you read it at least once a day to reinforce your commitment to these traits.

5. Track Your Habits

Carry a notepad to track your habits throughout the day, especially those contributing to plateaus, as well as your new habits or traits aligned with achieving your goals. For instance, if your root cause is excessive internet use, record instances of mindless scrolling on social media. Note when you engage, the emotional state prompting it, and the approximate duration.

Calculate the total minutes wasted at the end of the day. This habit tracking makes you aware of the emotions triggering these behaviors (stress, boredom, and frustration) and the time wasted.

Additionally, track positive new habits, like reading good books and exercising. Document what you’ve learned from the book and the time spent exercising. This practice helps you build new positive habits by enabling you to compare today’s results with those from yesterday or a week ago. 

Moreover, consistently sticking to new habits for around 18 months transforms them into lifelong habits. Even if you take breaks, you will find yourself naturally returning to those habits.

6. See Obstacles as Opportunities

Every obstacle can be an opportunity to turn things around. If the economy is in a downturn, it’s time to recognize it as an opportunity to thrive while everyone else is struggling and focused on the problem. If someone makes fun of you or causes you trouble, ask yourself, ‘What can I learn from this experience?’

Alternatively, consider that the person underrating you is setting low expectations, which are easier to exceed. If your business receives a bad review from a customer, see it as free feedback that guides you on how to improve and take your business to the next level.

Always try to see different angles that others may overlook. This perspective can reveal aspects you might be missing. When you view a problem as an opportunity, it has the potential to foster growth.

In the journey toward success, plateaus are just temporary pauses, not dead ends. So, keep moving, keep growing, and make your breakthrough.

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