Surviving the Management of a Lazy Boss – Nu Leadership Series

“In real life, the most practical advice for leaders is not to treat pawns like pawns, nor princes like princes, but all persons like persons.”
James MacGregor Burns

What can happen when you work for an uninspiring leader? Frankly, it can’t be good. Let’s explore the leader-follow relationship in organizations. I was blessed to work in a research-oriented organization at the beginning of my career. The work was wonderful but my supervisor wasn’t. His staff had seasoned professionals except for two people. When I accepted the job, he informed me that if I wanted to do well I was not to bring him any problems. I had the opportunity to change jobs and get promoted. I asked this supervisor what should be done. He said, “Stay put. Down make a move.” You can imagine he wasn’t very helpful in my career development.

Unfortunately, this leadership style can wreck a leader-follow relationship. Scholars call this style laissez-faire leadership, while others would argue that it’s non-leadership. Hackman and Johnson, leadership experts, explain that laissez-faire leadership involves leaders’ withdrawal from their followers and their tendency to offer little guidance. Initially, I often felt undervalued because my supervisor didn’t care about my career. However, I soon took advantage of this situation. I knew I could take risks and make major decisions for my organization at my entry level. I was amazed. I found myself rarely asking him for any guidance. I walked on faith during this process. Therefore, employees should stay positive even when working for an ineffective leader. Keep a positive attitude. Start today!

Hackman, M. and Johnson, C. (2004). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green