How to Get Along With a Leader You Don’t Like

There might be many reasons why you don’t like your boss. Maybe you’re more capable than they are but they were promoted over you. Maybe there is a mismatch in ethics and values, or just differing work styles. Whatever the issue, you have to deal with them every day while trying your best to advance your career under their management.

The good news (in a way) is that you’re not alone. Many people have trouble with their boss, so there will always be others whose experience you can learn from. Here are some of the top ways people manage working with a leader they dislike:

Be your best. In any difficult relationship, a good approach is to keep your head down and focus on yourself and what you need to do. Keep your conversations with your boss cordial and focused only on work.

Learn to depersonalize. Try to put your feelings about your boss into neutral. You’re going to have to deal with plenty of people in life you don’t like, and the ability to put those feelings aside is a good one. You don’t have to hang out, you just have to work together.

Don’t allow yourself to gripe or gossip. However you feel about your boss, have enough respect for them—and yourself—to abstain from gossiping or complaining. Unless you witness breaches of ethics or integrity, don’t talk with others about your boss except in the most professional terms.

Try to learn from the situation. Even the worst situations have something to teach us. If your boss handles a situation badly, ask yourself what you would have done differently. Be attentive and thoughtful.

Find your triggers. Take the time to think about what upsets you most about your boss. Then spend some time reflecting on why. Think about those qualities and how they play out in your own life so you can make sure you’re never guilty of the same behavior.

Work on yourself. Remember that your own imperfections may have a role in your relationship with your boss. Turn to people you trust for feedback about your strengths and weaknesses and advice about improving relationships.

Don’t be confrontational. Even if your boss is a truly toxic leader, research strongly indicates that confronting the situation directly usually fails. The best tactics are to view it objectively as a conflict situation, see what you can learn from it, and try to develop some common ground.

Take the big-picture view. Dedicate yourself to making the best of a bad situation and look for the positives. Remember that your career is still moving forward and will continue past your difficult boss. You’re where you are doing what you do for a reason.

Lead from within: If you stay focused on your why, you can survive almost any how.

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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. EKamau

    14. May, 2020

    Thank you very much for your coaching on leadership. In the short time I have read your articles I have felt encouraged. Today I read about dealing with a boss one doesn’t like. When I started my career I had two board Directors who didn’t like me. He looked for opportunities to fire me. I struggled a lot and I had to leave the company. Kindly help me on how to handle a boss who doesn’t like me.

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