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Have a bad boss? Best-selling author offers a few tips at Silicon Slopes event

A look at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit stage.
A look at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit stage.
Herb Scribner, Deseret News

The Silicon Slopes Tech Summit kicked off with Mitt Romney on Friday, who spoke openly about his thought on world, national and local politics.

But it was New York Times best-selling author Liz Wiseman who brought the conversation down to the common person, opening up about how to deal with a boss who limits your talent.

Wiseman said following Romney is like going from the student class president (Romney) to the class clown.

Wiseman, who wrote “Multipliers” and “The Multiplier Effect,” said bad bosses can create adverse mental health effects, leading to such issues as depression, stress, anger and irritability.

She said employees often think of ways to combat those leaders since no one wants to stay in a job in which they suffer from a bad boss.

“A lot of the things that we’re doing around diminishing leaders, they don’t just fix the problems, they accentuate the problem,” she said.

If you have an unhelpful boss, you might comply to them in person. In private, you’re judging that boss and figuring out why they’re wrong.

People often think it’s important to confront their boss about those hiccups. But that doesn’t help, she said. Instead, she recommends you figure out ways to ignore the diminishing attitudes.

She said it’s important to wonder what your boss is going through. Try to understand why your boss is nervous, upset or doesn’t hold trust in you. Try to view your career from their perspective.

Understanding their point of view might help you sidestep how they diminish your skills.

“I am not in anyway suggesting that if you change your response you’ll change this person,” she said. “But if you change your response, you change the dynamic. The dynamic changes that sometimes when we face vast darkness, that sometimes we’re the ones who have to supply the light.”

Wiseman shared some images that workers should “stop the spinning” and assert their ability. She encouraged workers to “reverse the cycle” by identifying a boss’ strengths rather than focusing on their “flat sides” or negatives.

But by understanding their perspective, workers can gain empathy for their bosses and be less upset by any diminishing behaviors.

Wiseman said workers will want to talk to their boss and include them in conversations about how they like to be managed, too.

“Sometimes when we face a leadership void in our companies, in our government, in our places of community and worship, sometimes we have to supply the light,” she said. “But when we do, we create organizations where every voice matters and every voice is heard.”