I woke up this morning to a face full of licking and paws on my chest. Now, Chico isn’t a small dog—he’s a bull terrier who was described as “one big muscle” by a guy on his way to work today. So his stepping on my stomach didn’t just pull me out of my dreams, it pulled the breath out of me as well. He doesn’t mean to hurt me, of course—he’s just excited to go for his walk.
I grew up with a cat, and she was quite the opposite. She roamed the house when she wanted to and would occasionally come to me if I had something of interest (i.e., food), but otherwise would generally leave me alone.
Leaders’ behaviors can be very similar to the behaviors of cats and dogs. Some constantly hover around and pull you out of your work for status updates, meetings, and side projects, while others leave you completely to your own devices and are nowhere to be found when you need them. And it can be quite frustrating to deal with either.
Do you work with someone like this? Here are ways to cope:
Dog Leaders: These leaders don’t necessarily understand how disruptive their behaviors can be. They simply want to ensure that progress is being made and work is getting done, but they also want to make sure they’re giving you what you need. Perhaps they are new to their role or are unsure of their own leadership capabilities. Be sure to provide plenty of positive feedback for the good that they do while also letting them know a few things that could be done even better. To keep them informed, use a simple virtual communication/collaboration/project management tool where you can post updates on your work. You can direct them to this tool for any updates, leaving yourself to work distraction-free.
Cat Leaders: These leaders require much more work on your part. When they give you your task, you must think several steps ahead, anticipate any questions you may have later on, and then ask the questions while they are with you. Be sure to ask the best way to contact them if you do have any urgent questions since they may have a preferred method of communication. Also, take the initiative and schedule regular meetings with them that last 15-30 minutes for the purpose of providing quick status updates. If any questions come up, you can ask them during these meetings.
By understanding these two types of leaders, you can work with them more effectively and get more done with less fur-ustration.