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How to work with a domineering boss

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in Your Office Coach

Question: Our new CEO dictates orders without getting input from experienced staff and intimidates people by yelling at them in meetings. He was brought in because sales are dropping and the company is losing money. When his ideas fail, the CEO blames the managers, claiming they don’t know how to run their departments. But the real problem is that he is cleaning house through deep job cuts, so we don’t have enough employees to meet his demands. Most people are planning to leave as soon as they can find another job. In the meantime, can you help me figure out how to work with this guy?  Battered Manager

Answer: As the appointed savior of a troubled business, your new CEO is undoubtedly under tremendous pressure to make quick changes and demonstrate success.  Fear of failure may increase his impatience and fuel his temper.  While that doesn't excuse abusive behavior, it may help you understand his state of mind.

In the CEO’s eyes, anyone who defends past practices will seem oppositional and resistant to change.  To avoid that label, try to understand his priorities and adopt them as your own. When he proposes a new approach, respond with interest and support.  If you spot a potential problem, offer suggestions, not criticism.  

Unfortunately, your CEO may have a tough time turning this company around unless he adopts a more motivational leadership style.  His aggressive, domineering behavior is typical of immature executives who have not learned to use power wisely.

Do you have to deal with top executives?  If so, here are some suggestions: How to Work with Executives.

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