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Five ways to deal with an authoritarian supervisor

You love the job you’re doing, but dread going to work every day. After all, there isn’t much value attached to your views or methods of working.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 07, 2012, 10.47 AM IST
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You love the job you’re doing, but dread going to work every day. After all, there isn’t much value attached to your views or methods of working: your boss makes it very clear that it’s his or her way or the highway.

There’s no point in trying to talk to such bosses either: as far as they’re concerned, communication is a one-way street. And they always know best. You have frequent thoughts of quitting, but the work is good, and so’s the pay. You needn’t give up hope — you can manage the authoritarian boss and even learn a few things along the way.

Establish your Credibility

Earn respect. Stay focused at all times. Do not beat around the bush while making a point. "This will result in your boss trusting you more. Stand up to the boss, politely but firmly.

If you are convinced that your boss will not listen to you, find someone he or she is willing to listen to," says Anupam Sirbhaiya, regional director India, Center for Creative Leadership.

Build a Relationship

Everyone values relationships and this does not change in a professional environment. Focus on building a long-term relationship with your boss. "There are simple things that you shouldn't forget.

In a situation where the solution has multiple alternatives, always consider your bosses' alternative. Make sure you do not reject authority. Do not oppose the boss in a public setting, do it in person if you have to," adds Anupam.

Adapt to your Boss's Style

Remember, your boss deals with different people differently. "Every boss has a different style. Authoritarian with some and communicative with others. Know where you fit. Work so that you enable this style to change. Give regular feedback even if it is met with a negative reaction from your boss. You will realise that it is surprisingly easy to get into the inner circle of an authoritarian boss," says Ravi Saxena, founder and CEO, MISB Bocconi.

Learn from your Leader

"When I was starting my career, my boss made me do things in a specific manner. Looking back, I think I wasn't mature enough to appreciate what he was trying to do," says Alap Mehra, deputy manager actuarial, Bajaj Allianz. Your boss has reached a certain level because he or she has done some good things. Keep your eyes open and learn from them.

"Authoritarian bosses can sometimes be insecure. When you follow their methods and achieve success, let them know. Your boss is a person at the end and will appreciate it, which in turn will improve the communication. But make sure you don't follow blindly," adds Saxena.

Stand your Ground

Even after trying everything, your boss is probably still being unacceptably authoritarian. But don't quit just yet. "Bosses come and bosses go. Keep your eyes on your career and not your boss. If the boss is going wrong, then the management will notice it quicker than they notice your mistakes and appropriate action will be taken," says Ravi.
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