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Excellius Leadership Development

This Might Be Jeopardizing Your Relationship with Your Boss

Here are some of the most common reasons why your relationship with your boss may not be as good as you’d like, and some tips for overcoming the barriers.


You and your boss may have different leadership styles that consistently create conflict between you. What can you do about this? Different styles are very common in the workplace. Schedule time with your boss to talk about your respective styles—what you both like and don’t like. The more transparent you both are, the more likely it is that you’ll find ways to keep your differences from eroding your overall relationship.

Personality preferences

You and your boss may have different personality preferences— that is, preferred ways of interacting and working with other people—that give rise to frustration and irritation between you. What can you do about this? I encourage you and your boss to complete a TypeCoach or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and review your outcomes together. I guarantee that what you learn about each other’s personality preferences will pave the way for a more positive relationship.


You and your boss may work in different buildings, cities, states—or countries! Even an excellent relationship can suffer if you don’t see your boss regularly. You may feel that if your boss doesn’t see you enough, they will forget you exist. What can you do about this? Don’t let geographical distance get in the way of a positive relationship. Make sure you reach out and connect with your boss frequently by phone or email, and by all means, include a visit whenever you’re in the same building. Ask your boss how you can deepen your relationship despite the differences in your geography.

Temporary assignment

You may report to a boss on a temporary basis. Unless your boss is deeply focused on building your skill set and the connection between you, the short-term nature of the assignment may delay your progress in building a positive relationship. What can you do about this? Treat all colleagues to whom you report, including temporary bosses, in positive and helpful ways. You never know whom you may meet again in the future, and sometimes a temporary boss becomes your regular boss. Don’t look back in regret; make your best effort even with a temporary boss.

Matrix environment

In today’s complex and fast-paced organizations, many bosses have several areas of responsibility—some that overlap and some that don’t. The more varied your boss’s tasks, and the more work they have to lead, the less time they’ll have to spend with you. This can erode your ability to build a strong relationship.
What can you do about this? No matter how many areas your boss supervises, make sure you operate as a helper, not a hurter. A helper is someone who your boss feels helps them achieve goals and make positive progress. A hurter is someone who hinders your boss’s progress. Always look for ways to be perceived as  someone who helps.

Hired vs. inherited status

Bosses are naturally more invested in people they’ve hired than in those they’ve inherited. It’s the difference between “I chose you voluntarily” and “you were given to me involuntarily.” Your hired vs. inherited status with your boss could have a big impact on your relationship. What can you do about this? You can’t change whether you were hired or inherited by your boss. Regardless of your status, you need to make sure, as with the previous situation, that your boss sees you as a helper, not a hurter. Being a helper means overcoming how you and your boss came together and doing all you can to help your boss be successful.

Let’s call it “enjoyment”

This might be the trickiest situation. You may not enjoy being with your boss and your boss may not enjoy being with you. The reasons for this displeasure may be one or more of my earlier points, or a new factor altogether. Whatever the reason(s), some folks just don’t like one another. What can you do about this? While it may be hard to fake it when it comes to your regard for your boss, in some cases you need to do just that. Ensure that you’ve always got your boss’s back, that you’re positive and future-focused, and that you work in ways that help your boss succeed. Who knows? If you try hard enough, perhaps your boss will get promoted!

Image by Merio from Pixabay


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Ed Evarts is the founder and president of Excellius Leadership Development, an organization focused on coaching mid- to senior- level leaders and their teams in business environments. With over twenty-five years of innovative leadership and management experience, Ed possesses the ability to build awareness, create action, and deliver results. Known for his business acumen, his ability to resolve complex human relations issues, and his enthusiastic, accessible and responsive style, Ed partners with managers, leaders and business teams to explore clarity and communication, and traverse conflict and change.