CA(SA) - ARE YOU CLAIMING YOUR PLACE AS THE BOSS or are you playing 'Mr Nice Guy'?


Is there something wrong with being a boss?

Too often I find my clients are just not stepping up to their authority. They walk around with the appropriate title but they fail to claim their space as the person in charge!

There is an important thing to know about this – if you cannot claim your authority with your staff, your boss will have serious doubts about your ability to run a team and this will jeopardize your career development opportunities.

The result?

You will find yourself with a perpetual sense of dis-empowerment and stuck-ness.

Know this – the people around you will be bewildered and confused – they have been told that you are the boss. By you not taking it on you are sending out mixed messages.

The interesting thing is that when I prod these clients a little more the following things emerge:

  • They believe in fairness and justice
  • They want to connect not rule
  • They are open and willing
  • They believe in a better world
  • They want people to work together for the common good
  •  They are compassionate and caring

You certainly cannot expect a dearer set of values!

The thing is, unless you are the leader and are respected as such, all this good stuff can look weak and pathetic and probably even immature and naive!

Nobody wants to compromise their values, especially if they are good solid ones.

But that is not what is going on here.

When you take over a position and your title includes ‘manager’, the expectation is that you act like one. If you don’t, you create confusion and discomfort. More particularly, you create a vacuum. This will allow the strongest personality on your team to step in and take control.

What this looks like is disrespect and a general disregard for deadlines and impeccability. As a financial manager you can ill-afford this – deadlines, accuracy and attention to detail are all vital aspects of your KPI’s.
Furthermore if you allow this situation to continue, Miss personality (forgive the inference but my clients, both male and female usually struggle with a female subordinate) will poison your team and in no time you will find yourself with an uncooperative bunch of people who will let you down at every turn!

This is especially apparent if you have a team of people who are much older and more experienced than yourself. Your qualifications coupled with a nice fat salary (which is never kept confidential) does create resentment and, unless you show your metal, they will have no hesitation  in sitting on the sidelines waiting for you to  crash and burn.

So how do you deal with such a situation especially if you have been in the position for sometime and you feel the powerlessness that you have created?

Here are some simple techniques you can use (as gaudy as they may sound) to create a meaningful shift almost immediately:

  • When you walk in to work tomorrow morning, greet nobody. Only respond if someone greets you and then play down the ‘gushing’.
  • Do not go to people’s work space – if you want something from them get them to come to your office.
  • Be particularly abrupt and abrasive to Miss Personality. If she wants something from you keep her waiting- call her in when you are good and ready.

Yes, this is game playing and even downright manipulation but it works! Your changed behavior will worry them as you are the boss after all!

So this is what you can expect if you adhere to this process:

  • By not greeting your staff (unless they greet you first) you create an atmosphere of doubt. Because you are the boss, it would be quite normal for them to begin to worry that they have done something wrong. This puts them on the back foot.
  • Miss Personality will come taping at your door to see what’s going on (virtually guaranteed!).
  • Pushing her back with an abrupt ‘I can’t see you now, I’m busy’ instills your authority. You can be sure that she will be rattled enough to review her behavior.
  • Calling her back when you are ready allows you to tackle the interaction on your terms.

When everyone is worried about why the boss seems so grumpy, a space is created for you to step in and set up some new ground rules. This can immediately restores your power.

It is human nature to be concerned when an authority figure appears curt and abrupt – usually people examine their own behavior to determine what has gone wrong.

Apply this process and you might be delighted to find that your power is returned with little effort or confrontation.

Once you have the rules of engagement firmly in place you can revert back to your warm, engaging self with a gentle proviso that if boundaries are crossed, you will have no compunction in pulling out your bottle of nasty pills! 


                                                             About the author:                                                                                                                  

Clive Kaplan is a prolific writer on LinkedIn PULSE. He has written over 45 articles on various topics from financial management and operations to job search and confidence building. He is also the author of the  “winQs” series (pronounced ‘winks’) which appears regularly on the LinkedIn network. 

Being a CA(SA) with over 20 years’ experience as an executive director in both listed and unlisted companies Clive brings some interesting perspectives to the field of management. Having been involved at Director/Board level, he offers a wealth of wisdom on both the people and business front.

Clive is the CEO of GREEN MIND CAPITAL (Pty) Ltd. The company  focuses on assisting executives, especially emerging young CA’s, maximize their potential and fast-track their careers.

Clive has been involved with coaching and self-development since 1994. He has a particular interest in Cognitive Awareness Technology (CAT) and has completed a number of advanced courses on the topic including The More To Life Training, Way of The Warrior, The Power of Self Esteem, The Power of Purpose, The Power of Connection, The A & B Phase Mentor Training, The I Am Training, Joy Spring, & is currently completing the world-renowned ORSC Corporate Coaching Course.

Clive’s mix of years of practical executive experience coupled with his own personal self-development journey brings together a unique method of Transformation Coaching. He also has hundreds of hours of one-on-one coaching experience to his credit.

Clive is a ORT Jet mentor and works closely with the More To Life Program, both on a voluntary basis.

In his personal life. Clive is an avid walker and swimmer both of which he does most days throughout the year. He has a passion for SA history, specifically around the Anglo-Boer War era and collects books relating to this period. He has a tongue-in-cheek fascination with the President Paul Kruger’s hidden treasure (commonly known as the Kruger Millions) and is somewhat of an authority on the subject.

Clive is married to Adrienne and has two young children – Bianca aged 14 and Daniel aged 10. He lives with his family in Johannesburg, South Africa.