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How To Handle a Tough Boss

Tough Boss
Brainstyles - How To Handle A Tough Boss

Understanding your brainstyle will help you to learn how to effectively communicate with other personalities. In this case study, observe how Gary learns how to handle a tough boss.

Lou was standing when Gary came into his office. He opened impatiently, “It’s been a bad morning, Gary. I hope this won’t take long.  I’ve got to catch a plane this afternoon.  I just found out an hour ago.”  Uh Oh, thought Gary, but, typical for his brainstyle, he showed no visible reaction when under pressure.

Gary, a twenty-nine-year-old plant manager for a well known brand, set a meeting with the operations vice president.  He prepared for the meeting for weeks.  Gary has held his position for 18 months, and knew it was critically important to impress the man he is looking at across the desk. In fact, it would not be far-fetched to say that this meeting would determine his entire future with the company.  Everybody in the office said that Lou the VP had a temper and didn’t put up with much. Gary had heard that people came out of difficult encounters with Lou and “you never heard from them again.” Read more after the jump.

So Gary knew there was a lot on the line and had asked for an extra three days to prepare a report that carefully, thoroughly supported his request for a major expansion to the plant he managed.  The amount was several millions and a serious request.  Gary had a stack of papers and overheads to show with graphs and charts.  And now, horror of horrors, Lou was saying he wanted a one-page summary starting with the “bottom line.”  But Gary, given his brainstyle, wanted to explain what was involved in his conclusions so Lou would understand better what the decision required.

The worst then occurred. Lou actually pounded the desk and exploded,, “Damn it, Gary, just give me the punch line!  You took an extra three days!  What’s the decision?”

It must be said here that Gary had had a few sessions with brainstyles and had spent some time thinking about his strengths and what he was up against in dealing with Lou’s brainstyle. He wasn’t totally unprepared for this reaction, yet even so, his hands were quite clammy and his stomach had settled firmly at his feet.  Gary’s natural strengths were solidly in his favor, however.  He did not process the feelings as rapidly nor take Lou’s words as personally as some other brainstyles would.  He answered rather coolly with what was to become the foundation of the BrainStyles® principles: respect for self and the other without asking that either change.

Gary looked squarely at Lou and said in his soft-spoken voice, “You know, I’m never going to give you the decision you want as fast as you want it.  You’ll always be faster at that than I will.  But I will tell you this:  I will work as hard as I can and as fast as I can to make what I give you as accurate and as solid a decision as possible.  It may take a few days longer, but you can bet that when you get it, you can take it to the bank.  And,” he added, “there’s too many ‘hip-shooters’ around here. You need someone you can count on.”

Lou actually sat down.  He looked squarely at Gary.  Gary, he thought, was full of surprises.  He concluded that Gary was a straight shooter (a value important to him and his brainstyle), that he was not just making an excuse for delays. It was the truth.  From what Lou had seen, he was accurate and thorough. Gary was saying what he could be counted on for, and that he could be counted on to deliver it to meet Lou’s needs to the best of his ability.

Gary walked out with a yes for the $8 million budget increase. When he reached the parking lot he realized that Lou was actually a reasonable guy, and one only needed to approach him in the correct way.  They had had a good discussion after Gary’s pronouncement.

They never had another meeting like that one again. Lou became one of Gary’s strongest supporters in the organization, recommending him for several promotions in the next few years.  Gary spread the word that changed Lou’s reputation from fire-breather to respected leader.  He has continued to apply the brainstyle principles with some half dozen new bosses and new teams that improved their productivity and worked well together by using their differences, including his study team in the Harvard Business School.

Using BrainStyles, Gary was able to understand how his brainstyle processed information and how that differed from Lou, his superior. The result was a productive meeting that led to many more successes within his position as plant manager. If you would like to learn how BrainStyles can help you effectively communicate with your colleagues, visit our website.