Take the Lead and Others Will Follow

Sometimes it might seem like everyone around your workplace expects you to act like a coach by making sure you practice good team leader behaviors, but when it comes to them it’s a different story. This could be an issue for you if it’s your boss. She might talk a good game about working as a team, and then her actions are exactly the opposite. Since this is your supervisor, you may be hesitant to bring up the topic of making sure her actions match her words.

Here are three potential ways you might deal with this.

  1. You can find another boss.
  2. You can live with the situation as it is.
  3. You can “coach up” by providing him feedback when you have good opportunities to do so. You would want to prep for this by jotting down situations that demonstrate he is not a team player. You’ll also want to crystallize your thoughts on what feedback you might provide so your feedback is helpful and has the potential to change behavior.

If you selected #3, you win the prize for bravery in a team leadership role. Give yourself a hearty pat on the back.  :)

You’ve bumped into the hardest part about working in a team-based environment — doing what you say. And remember, people will believe what you do more than what you say. If the words don’t match the action, the action always wins hands down.

You can be sure your team is paying attention. You most certainly cannot control the behaviors of your supervisor. But you can be the leader you would like to see in others. Too many times we wait for someone else to start when we can be a catalyst ourselves. And, often when others see what’s working for us, they follow suit.

Take the lead and others will follow. What do you think?

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. She gets a lot of joy from working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. Not only does her advice come from the heart, it comes from years of experience working as a team member, team leader, manager and owner of her own company. She has truly walked in your shoes and offers help so you can be a better team leader. You can find more advice from Denise at her website Ask Team Doc and don't forget to follow her on Twitter @deniseoberry.

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  • Mkemp73

    With respect, this wasn't worth reading. Inconsistent use of gender (gee, have to be politically correct, right?) and then, “You can be your team is paying attention”?

    This is a variation on the old “managing up” concept, but it's so lightweight it's useless, or worse. There's no advice on how to identify a “good time” to provide him/her feedback, nor is there any advice on how to frame your “feedback” so that you don't wind up ticking off the boss. Ya, you “win the prize for bravery,” and a) don't accomplish what you wanted to, and b) get on his/her s*list, to boot.


  • http://www.deniseoberry.com deniseoberry

    @Mkemp73 — Thanks for your feedback. Yes a tiny typo slipped through and has since been corrected. I appreciate the suggestion on delving into the topic further and am sorry to hear you weren't enamored with the gender switch. :)