Does Your Boss Have His Head in the Sand? Ask Madeleine

Ostrich Classic PortraitDear Madeleine, 

As a sales and marketing manager in my company, I have been raising flags regarding the way we are responding to the market shrinking and business conditions.

I see us headed for a critical situation soon and have suggested several solutions to our GM. He simply doesn’t listen. He refuses to take any risk, even if it’s calculated.

He seems to want to just stay in his comfort zone while clock is ticking. Should I prepare to leave, or what? – Eyes Wide Open 

Dear Eyes,

Many human situations can be found in Greek mythology. This situation is covered in the ancient tale of Cassandra, who is given the gift of prophesy but then cursed so no one will listen to her or believe her. Poor Cassandra was driven insane—but let’s not let that happen to you! I think you have two courses of action here, and you may want to pursue them both simultaneously.

The first is to try, one last time, to get through to your GM. It’s possible that your communication style is not resonating with him—so before you approach him this time, observe him carefully to understand how he thinks, learns, and processes information. Is he data driven? Prepare your argument with spreadsheets. Is he a big picture person? Tell a story about where your company has been and where you see it going—you could make comparisons with famous now defunct businesses such as Tower records, Blockbuster Video and Kodak. Is he visual? Use images to make your point. As you note, your boss is not a risk taker so you will want to start with very low risk proposals and be prepared to show how small risks could pay off. Finally, many people have very fragile egos so it won’t hurt to show respect for what he does well and find ways to build on any good ideas he has.

The second course of action is to dust off your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, and start looking for a new job. You may not need one, but you should always be prepared.

Of course, there is the possibility that you are wrong—both in your assessment of the business situation and in your GM’s reasons for not listening to you. It might be wise to discuss your feelings with colleagues and get a reality check before working yourself into too much of tizzy.


About the author

Madeleine Blanchard

Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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