Don’t badmouth your boss

May 13, 2021
Photo by Edmond Dantès from Pexels

I recently listened in to a team meeting lead by an executive that I coach. In the meeting, she let her team know that she sees her own boss as ineffective. She complained that she is doing his job, using a lot of judgmental language.

When I asked her why she revealed this to her team, she said because they need to know that she’s not responsible for their delays, miscommunications, and rework.

I asked her what need she was filling by bad-mouthing her boss to her team.

She thought about it and confessed it was probably the need for respect, appreciation, and closeness. Plus it felt good to create a common enemy.

Given the opportunity to think about the possible impacts of her decisions, she realized that her words may get around, possibly in a way that others control her message.

“It’s worse than that,” I said. “You’re telling your team that you can’t lead effectively, that you’re not capable of solving this problem you have. Your words are a reflection, not on your boss, but on you. Not only that, but you’re modeling behavior for them.”

If you’re not willing to speak your truth to your boss, why should your teammates tell you theirs?


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