Outshining Your Boss

Most bosses want a team of superstars. A team that everyone talks about as being the leaders in the company. They want to be known as the boss of the superstars, “Who does Superstar Jen work for? – Well Jim”. It reflects on the bosses choices, it reflects on his capabilities to pick the best people and also for him being able to retain them. If superstars want to work for this person, then he must be a great boss.
If you have someone working on your team that is not a superstar on the other hand, people question his ability to make smart choices and in some instances even lose some respect for the manager. People look at leaders and expect them to be able to manage an organization with great knowledge, ability and integrity. And its not just how the team reflects on the boss and his image. A manager is only as good as his people. You can only do the best with the best people. Hence its important not only for a mangers reputation, but also pays greatly for him to have a team of superstars.
Yet what some managers differ in, is the extent that they let their superstars be superstars. Unfortunately, some people have issues with being outshined. They want you to be known as the person that works for them and not as a individual on your own. This is not necessary intended evil. Each person is a puzzle of needs and insecurities. And even the best of us *cough-Michelle-Obama-cough* fight with inner doubts. Few people face these fears, not because they don’t have the time but because it is really hard to admit your own vulnerabilities to yourself. Just try writing down what you don’t like most about yourself. Then try to figure out why you don’t like this or why you act like this. This task, you will find will not be easy. One of my friends once told me, being honest with yourself and forgiving yourself will be the hardest things to do in your life. It takes great strength and most of us spend our strength on life itself. It takes a whole other energy pallet to build an understanding that not all things have to do with oneself.
We tend to always think most things in our lives have to do with us. If someone doesn’t say hello to us as they walk by, we feel somewhat confused or hurt & wonder what we did wrong. If a cashier doesn’t smile when serving us, we get offended instead of shrugging it off and having compassion that she must have had a long, hard day or perhaps got dumped by her boyfriend in the morning. As we go through life in our own eyes and observe it in our own minds, we expect everything to have to do with us. It’s not that we are self-centered – its just the easiest way to explain the world to yourself.
So – a lot of bosses tend to not notice if they don’t let you shine. Perhaps they are afraid of losing you and don’t know how else to show it. Yet in this case, the only way you would stay working for this manager is if he does support to in your shining. Otherwise, you will not grow and your shine will die out.
Other managers are jealous. They don’t feel like they are the leader of the team but that now you lead the team. Ergo here as well, they wont let you shine.
Now full disclosure. You can not. Never. Tell your boss he is not letting you shine. Why you may ask? Because you are walking into that vulnerable territory I mentioned earlier. Vulnerability triggers defensiveness. You will not get what you want out of your boss if he is in defense. Just ask yourself how you react in defense, for example someone falsely accuses you of eating the last piece of cake in the office or stealing their stapler. Does that make you want to invest in their well being?
The only way you can attack this is: Always make your boss feel like he is the boss. Make them feel like you appreciated their support thus far, and mention that you would like to grow with them. They may not be able to help you grow in the way you need to and that is fine. If a boss doesn’t want you to shine for whatever reason, or can’t handle your shine – you have outgrown them and it is time to leave. But don’t burn bridges and don’t hold it against them. They – just like you – have their inner doubts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s