8 Things Your Boss Won't Tell You (But You Need to Know)


Are you damaging your career without realizing it? As an executive coach, I see even high performers get tripped up by some common stumbling blocks when no one gives them feedback about the effects of their behaviors. Here are a few things that your boss might be thinking but not voicing.

  1. 'Your Hard Work Doesn't Speak for Itself'If you're heads down assuming the right people will recognize your hard work when the time comes, consider this a wake-up call. Your boss is busy and her attention is divided. There's just no way she's going to notice everything you're accomplishing unless you let her know. And she wants you to let her know. She needs to understand your capabilities to fully leverage them. Need some pointers on strategic self-promotion? Check out these videos from one of my most-requested presentations: "Tastefully Tooting Your Own Horn."

  1. 'Indispensable Equals Stuck'If your boss can't afford to lose you in your current role, you might have trouble moving up to a new one. Start by identifying candidates who could fill your shoes someday, and develop a succession plan.

  1. 'Office Politics Are a Fact of Life'Sure, you'd like to remain above it all, but the truth is that what's going on politically in your office — and how you navigate it — affects your ability to get results. Your boss wants you to know how to cultivate relationships with people who can help you get access to the influence, information and resources to make things happen. Don’t opt out. Get in the game with authenticity and integrity.

  1. 'It's Not All About You'Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise effective leaders seem too focused on their own agenda or team because they forget to frame things in terms of the bigger picture. Remember to connect what you say and do to the larger goals and needs of the business as a whole.

  1. 'Working 24x7 Doesn't Impress Me' You may think that sending emails in the evening and on weekends conveys your commitment, but it can leave others with the impression that you are overwhelmed and possibly on a path to burnout. Even worse? Doing other work during meetings. Regardless of your rationale, it can communicate disrespect to other attendees by implying that their work is less important than yours, or that you are so overwhelmed that you have to use their meeting time to catch up. Notice the messages that you’re sending with your work patterns.

  1. 'I Pay Attention to How You Treat Others'One of the fastest ways to damage your standing is by delivering harsh feedback to peers or direct reports in group settings. Most people guilty of this behavior aren't trying to be bullies. Instead, they are focused on their own reactions in the moment or on pushing hard for results. Remember the career-limiting implications of behavior like this: a step down in your leadership credibility and a step up in resistance from peers who wouldn’t want you as a future boss.

  1. 'Being Chronically Late Diminishes Your Personal Brand'That's true even when you have "good" excuses. What would you infer about someone who's always late? Remember, everything you do sends messages to others about your leadership capability.

  1. 'Sometimes I Just Need You to Show Up'A meeting doesn't seem that important, and you have a legitimate scheduling conflict. So it's no big deal if you don't show up, right? Actually, it could be a really big deal for your boss. For him, perhaps it’s less about the topics to be discussed and more about you showing your support by making time to be there.

Which of these behaviors hit home for you, whether your own or someone else’s? Take the first step by asking others for feedback. If you don’t exhibit these behaviors, kindly raise the self-awareness of someone who does. My book "Show Up. Step Up. Step Out" can help you navigate these leadership challenges and many others. You can read the first five chapters for free now.

10 Years of Purpose, Presence and Power

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Newberry Executive Solutions. In that time, we've helped countless leaders get raises or promotions and amplify their impact through our products and services. To say thank you for your ongoing support, I'm sharing a special series of blog posts with some of the most powerful insights I've gained through 10 years of executive coaching (and 16 years in business before that). This week is Part 2 — stay tuned for more! Missed Part 1 of the series? Catch up and get my tips to build a confident executive presence.