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Creating Successful Leaders

UXL, Margaret Smith, Befriend Your Boss

Let’s face it, the key to achieving many of your career goals (that promotion, that next raise, etc.) is to pass through the office gatekeeper: your boss. Befriending your boss can be a tricky endeavor. You don’t want to seem like a brown-noser or disingenuous. What’s more, your boss might seem distant or guarded, reluctant to make new acquaintances with people from the lower ranks. If that’s the case, you might want to set your sights on making an impression on your boss, rather than a friendship. But, no matter the situation, there are certain steps you can take to become more visible in a positive way in your boss’ eyes.

The key is to approach your boss in a natural, authentic way and treat her like any other human being. The goal is to develop an authentic relationship with another person, not to feel intimidated or uneasy with a superior. Try getting to know your boss like any other person at the office:

  • Say hello
  • Ask about his or her family (and remember family member names when they come up in conversation)
  • Ask about their weekend plans or ask about what they did this past weekend
  • Attend company events and make small talk with your boss
  • Discuss shared interests (but do NOT pretend to like something your boss does just to fit in)

Notice that this list does not include things like “buy him small gifts” or “call her to have coffee.” Those kind of activities tend to cross the boss-employee line (unless, of course, you actually are close friends with your boss OR your boss is the kind of person who enjoys regularly going out for coffee with her employees).

The other way to gain positive attention from your boss is to make your achievements known. Stand out from the crowd by speaking up at meetings, volunteering for extra projects (and delivering excellent results), and involving yourself in extracurricular work events. Make yourself a positive presence—someone who is friendly and inclusive, rather than closed off and self-centered—and you will be noticed. Even if you do not quite reach friendship level with your boss, you can at least make yourself visible and visibility goes a long way toward reaching your career goals.

Are you having trouble with your boss? Not connecting with office leadership? Contact me and we can discuss some potential solutions.

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