12 Ways to Deal with Your Incompetent Manager

It’s “Solution Saturday.” Erin suggested we discuss leading up.

You’re stuck with an incompetent manager who hides in the office, talks too much, has poor people skills, can’t delegate, won’t make decisions, or some other disturbing manager-malady.

How to lead up when managers are incompetent?

be your best self even when others aren't

Rule #1:

Don’t complain to the people who promoted your incompetent manager.

Your boss’s boss promoted your incompetent manager. HR is motivated to help your incompetent manager succeed. It’s hard to admit you made a mistake when you promoted or hired the wrong person. We justify our decisions.

12 ways to lead up when your manager is incompetent:

  1. Determine who you want to be. Make a list of your best qualities. How will you express them in the context of your incompetent manager? Be your best self, even when others aren’t.
  2. Realize your incompetent manager probably thinks you’re hard to manage.
  3. Get advice or coaching outside your organization.
  4. Don’t listen to friends and family. They take your side.
  5. Engage in self-reflection. Stay open to the idea that the issue may be you. Your resistance to authority is about you, for example.
  6. Keep doing a great job. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot because you have an incompetent manager.
  7. Adapt to your incompetent manager’s weaknesses. If they micromanage, provide reports before they ask, for example.
  8. Compensate for your incompetent managers weaknesses.
  9. Remember, your incompetent manager was competent in another context.
  10. Explore ways that succeeding with an incompetent manager makes you better. Make a list of qualities you will develop over the next thirty days, with your incompetent manager in mind.
  11. Focus on the future rather than complaining about the past. Work on making things better.
  12. Promote yourself out of your organization or make a lateral move. But, if you’re branded as a complainer, lateral moves are difficult.

What “leading up” suggestions would you add?

What does leading up look like when you have a competent manager?

I’m sending Erin a Leadership Freak coffee cup because I used her topic.

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