How to Disagree with Your Boss

I am unwrapping posts from the archives and mixing the old with the new. Enjoy this post from the past.

"Everybody knows turnover at the top means upheaval. But new research shows just how bad your chances of keeping your job are." With this lead-in, the authors of a May 2007, Harvard Business Review article, "Surviving Your New CEO" quickly caught my attention.



Turnover at the top is a fact of life in any organization and the authors provide steps you can take to survive, and even thrive, with a new leader.  <If you are not a HBR subscriber, you can read the executive summary here. >

One word of advice from the authors was to "study the CEO's working style" and one anecdote in particular caught my attention. In this, an employee with a reputation for being blunt asked a new CEO how he should disagree with him. Caught the CEO off guard and sure caught my attention. Wow - if there is one area fraught with uncertainty, indecision and well, land mines, this is it. 

So, how do you approach your boss when you don't agree with him or her? More importantly, how do you do it to ensure you are heard and not harm the relationship? If you have worked for someone for any period of time you probably have it figured out but just how painful was it to get there?

Let's say that some of my learning over my years of work have been, well, less than pleasant. My approach, refined over time, has to been to watch, observe and generally work to figure out the working style of my boss and then adjust mine accordingly. I worked to figure it out. Now, what if I had just taken the route of the "blunt" employee and flat out asked? Wouldn't that have saved me some pain and misery and increased my chances of being heard much sooner?

Blunt employee? No, I think he was rather sharp.

A Call to Action: Grow Up and Lead

What does leadership mean to you?  If it means being brave, being bold and leading through roadblocks destined to derail, we are thinking the same. 


There is too much at stake for leaders to be derailed by the challenges they face. Yet, many are. They look for easy answers that are not to be found. Or, they look for excuses. The one place they don't look is to themselves. Sadly, leaders may forget why they've chosen to lead or they lose themselves in the process. It's time for a change.

I submitted a proposal for a leadership manifesto to ChangeThis. The proposal was accepted and now the fun begins. I am stacked up against nine other proposals and those with the most votes on January 4, 2013 will be selected to become a manifesto.

I want this. My ideas are right on (although my  1980s band reference in my proposal is off.) The "almost lead" I had a few days ago is lost . . . would you help me grab it back? You can read my proposal and cast your vote with one click by clicking and following this link:

Grow Up and Lead

Thank you for taking a look and to everyone voting so far, THANK YOU for your support. So, what was the right band and year?