How to Manage Up When You Have A Bad Boss 

A recent Gallup poll found that half the people who leave their jobs do so not because they are working for a bad company but because they are working for a bad boss.

If you’re trying to deal with a bad boss, you can at least take some comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. They’re seemingly everywhere.

Many people will think that they have to resign or disengage at work to survive a bad boss, but you have other options.

Many of them involve some element of managing up—finding ways for you and your team to be successful in spite of your boss.

It may be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it you’ll stand to gain valuable skills that will help you when the day comes that you’re the boss, and your reputation for excellence and integrity will benefit from the contrast to your boss.

Here are some tips to help you manage up without your boss even realizing it:

Keep your priorities straight. It’s easy to lose track of your priorities in times of challenge and discomfort. Whatever the circumstances, make sure carrying out your job to the best of your ability is firmly at the top of your list. Make excellence your main weapon; never give your boss an advantage by complaining or making a fuss. Remember that part of your job is to make your boss look good. You don’t have to like who you work for, but you can still take pride in your professionalism and the quality of your work.

Make yourself invaluable. Work to become as valuable as possible to your boss, your team, and your organization. Think of ways to be supportive and take the initiative to help your boss where they struggle. Always look for opportunities to add value and demonstrate your effectiveness.

Never kiss up. The worst thing you can do around someone who’s manipulative is fake an attitude or perspective. Managing up is very different than kissing up. Flattering your boss or attempting to sugarcoat the situation is rarely perceived as genuine. Most people can tell when they’re being manipulated, and disingenuous behavior can backfire however nice you are. Be respectful, be kind—and most of all, be professional and never say anything negative about your boss, even to your most trusted workplace allies.

When they go low, you go high. When your boss exhibits behaviors and attitudes that cross the line, stay on the high road. Lead by example, show up with integrity, with clear boundaries, with character and with the determination not to let anyone break you down. Skills may give you power, but your character will earn you respect.

Understand their triggers. Triggers are the factors that influence emotional reactions, whether they’re positive or negative. The more awareness and understanding you hold of your boss’s triggers, the better you’re prepared to react effectively based on your desired outcomes. Don’t allow your boss’s triggers, or anyone’s, for that matter, to hijack your intentions and purpose. Remember that however challenging the relationship may be, it isn’t about you.

Lead from within: Always work to impress your boss and skillfully neutralize your own inner demons. This is how you manage up with a bad boss and build your influence and reputation at work.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
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.

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