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Is your Boss a Single Point of Failure?

Written by Jim Keighley on March 23, 2014

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.…" Lyrics from "Won't Get Fooled Again" by Pete Townshend

How many times have you complained about having too many bosses? Be careful what you wish for…

Do you really want just one boss?

When I started my career in the mid 1970’s – work was simple. I had a boss – Roger. When I needed to know what to do or how to do it – I asked my boss. Everybody has a boss – some good, some bad. I was lucky in that first assignment, Roger was a good boss.

As my career progressed, things changed – work became complicated.

Really complicated.

  • Assignment changes: from one location to another; location free; work from home...
  • New bosses from good to horrible; bosses in another time zone; bosses in another country...
  • Technology changes: Products made at multiple sites in multiple geographies; web based applications; shifts from hardware to software...
  • Organization changes: Multi-functional teams, outsourcing, right sizing …
  • Approach changes: End to end focus, shelf back design, Integrated Lean Six Sigma…
  • Development changes: Broadening assignments; double-hatting; remote learning...

Today, with the constantly changing corporate world that we all work in, each individual needs multiple sources of coaching and direction to grow and succeed.

The days of any one individual (aka "the boss") providing the best coaching and direction for everything are over!

Enter the Multi-Coach Model

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This model formalizes what is likely happening naturally, and gives clarity and purpose to what is sometimes a random mess.

  • We all have a person to whom we are accountable to deliver specific results. Call this person a Task Coach. You will likely have multiple Task Coaches. Who today only works on one project team at a time?

  • Each of us gets guidance from others on the methods needed to execute our tasks. These people are your Mastery Coaches. What are the chances that your boss is BEST source of knowledge for Electrical, Financial, Safety, and Logistics? ZERO.

  • A third resource is called a Career Coach – the person who handles your evaluation, your salary, and your next assignment. This is your boss – and it is more and more unlikely that your boss is one of your Task or Mastery Coaches.

Here are some tips to make the multi-coach model work:

  • Your Task/Mastery Coaches will be at all levels of the organization - including at your same level. Expect it. This helps people grow.

  • Become a coach - Gain agreement on a coaching relationship with your coaches. Coaching is a contribution for your performance appraisal. Do we value people who are sought after as a coach? Yup.

So the next time you hear someone joke/complain about having too many bosses – tell them that if they are trying to deliver their best – they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Take a bow for the new revolution. Smile and grin at the change all around me…

Jim Keighley is a popular coach who blends practical advice in a creative context. Check out his post - Leadership Lessons from The Who's "Magic Bus". Not only will Jim give you great advice, you'll have a leadership tool you'll want to pass on.

Learn more about Jim by visiting the Contributors page.

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