I have a great boss who I have a lot of respect for and one I really work very well with. He has  a track record for getting things done, he is very supportive of his staff including me and he is a very hard worker.  We also have different communication and leadership styles. In general, I interpret his style as more direct and task oriented. My style is more relationship oriented and more participatory/facilitator.  I am not really quite sure why our styles are so different. It could be just  our personalities or maybe  because of our cultural backgrounds.

I have worked with my boss for a few years now and in those years we’ve worked together, I have learned how to effectively work with him and  have a great working relationship without compromising my personal values and leadership style.  I would have to say that since we started working together, we’ve become partners in that I trust him wholeheartedly and he’s learned to trust and provide me the space to complete my responsibilities with minimal direction.  Here are some reasons why we work well together given our differences:

  • Our styles complement each other. There are times when his direct style of communication, straight to the point, is what’s needed to get the discussion going. There have also been times when my style fits the situation. What we have learned to do is to defer to the other person seamlessly during discussions depending on what is needed.
  • I’ve come to realize both styles have strengths/weaknesses. Depending on who we are communicating with and the situation we are in, his direct style is more effective than mine and vice versa. Recognizing that neither style is perfect for all situations is a key to allowing both styles to work together.
  • He’s still the boss and so I make sure he knows my plans and I consult with him. Trust is earned and so I make sure he is aware of what my intentions are. He does not really ask for details from me anymore but I make the effort to inform him anyways.
  • I had to change my perspective on how we work together. It’s probably a lot easier for me to change how I view our working relationship than for my boss to change his style and I was not going to ask him either. Rather than getting frustrated, I have learned to relax and not be so critical and instead to value how he leads and communicates.
  • We have discussed how we could work best together. We have had a couple of conversations when we openly discussed to make sure we are able to accomplish our tasks. We came to an understanding that I can call separate meetings without him so I can get the information I want from those in the meeting.
  • I realized we are both works in progress. No one is perfect and so I am always aiming to be better in how I do my job including how to lead and communicate.

A big reason why my boss and I work well together is probably because we both realize we bring different strengths and experiences.  For me, I made the conscious decision to evaluate my style and how I can be a better employee for the organization by working well with him and adjusting my perceptions. The fact that he is a very trustworthy and that I know I can depend on him for support also makes a huge difference.

How do you work with other people who may have different communication/leadership styles from yours?