Leadership isn’t trying to protect the status quo

Dr Hastings said that if, for example, it’s normal within your workplace to give employees a say in decisions such as who should be offered a supervisor role, then you might have anticipated your boss would ask certain colleagues their views. In this case, there might have been an opportunity to suggest, “I know you will ask Person X, Y and Z; can I be there when we have that discussion?”

“But if this isn’t the norm, then there is a solid basis to go back to the boss and ask for an explanation – ‘Why did you involve Person X, Y and Z when this is not something we normally do?’”

Dr Hastings also told me that your manager’s insistence that it’s best to stick with the status quo is a real worry.

“Managers and leaders are meant to ‘rock the boat’. If this manager always or often panders to subordinate needs, then this situation does not bode well for your career development in the longer term. These types of leaders make decisions by following the employee with the loudest voice, without a clear and coherent underlying strategy and direction.

“When choosing who we work for, we must be mindful of both leadership style and leadership ability. A don’t-rock-the-boat leader is lacking leadership ability, and it might serve your reader’s interests to apply for a role elsewhere.”


Dr Hastings said it was also worth considering how clearly you articulated what you desired out of a new position.

“Another thing that may have precipitated the issue for the reader is a lack of clarity on ‘wants’. What negotiation theory tells us is that when preparing for career conversations, we must take the time to prepare and communicate all of our ‘wants’ – to all stakeholders.

“Are your colleagues aware of your desire to advance your skills? What are their wants? Communicating these openly and freely can be a great way to align interests and reduce the interpersonal mush that often exists within organisations.”

Are you right to feel annoyed? Absolutely. Could you have done something else to improve your chances of getting the new role? Possibly, but this really seems like a failure of leadership rather than a failure on your part.

Perhaps the silver lining is that when you move into a leadership role yourself, you can use this experience as an example of a leadership style to avoid.

Work Therapy is back for 2023. Send your questions to [email protected]

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