What If You’re Smarter Than Your Boss?

Let’s face it, some people got into positions of leadership by being good office politics players, simple longevity at the company or perhaps just because of family or organizational relationships. And, unfortunately, these people may not be the bright bulbs. As their subordinate in the organization if you let your superior knowledge come out it could be destructive to your team, the company, and your career. Such conflicts usually end up as unproductive power struggles that hurt everyone. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this situation.

First of all, don’t oppose your boss in public. You may have a better grip on the situation but you won’t be doing yourself any favors by questioning and undermining the boss’s authority in front of others. Instead, keep any opposition or constructive criticism private. Most people will respond to a private talk much better. Your boss deserves your respect or, at the very least, respect the position.

There can be occasions where public opposition is necessary, most notably times when a mistake might lead to serious injury or death. In those cases you can try Crew Resource Management communication methods. These methods, developed by the commercial aviation industry in the wake of crashes such as the Tenerife disaster, were designed to allow more effective communication between the captain and crew.

You may have to swallow some pride here and let the boss take undue credit, but, by acknowledging the boss’ input on a project you can usually get their buy-in to your idea. Because they see it as partly their idea they’ll see it as less threatening. Also, it shows that you’re a team player which is good for the organization and your career as well. If you find it unrealistic to give the boss direct credit for an idea, try to give them indirect credit. For example, you might praise their leadership ability or something else they’ve done that helped you come up with the idea. 

Of course, there are some bad bosses out there and these techniques probably won’t work with them. In that case, the best option is to find somewhere else to work with better conditions. If you can’t do that right away, you may have to just grin and bear it for a while but you should get out as soon as you can.

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do? What are your thoughts on this?


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Comment by Sally
2008-10-05 11:50:33

Been in this situation? I LIVE in this situation. Seems no matter where I work, no matter where I go, I’m faced with the same dark fate; working for people who are threatened by your intelligence and who do nothing but try to keep you down.

Comment by swechha koirala
2009-07-21 19:25:50

i have been through it frequently……wish my brain wasn’t so much faster than others most of the time…..i try to hide it…..but sometimes i just can’t…..then they make fun of me by trying to show that i am dumb to boost their own egos

Comment by Deepak Mutreja
2009-11-08 11:55:42

feel pity on the organisational leaders who are not able to see the talent being supressed.This is the start of fall of the organisation.

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