I was recently invited to comment for an article Workopolis was doing titled: What to do when your boss gets fired.
When your boss gets fired it can create uncertainty, some chaos – or, conversely, some opportunity.
Some people will feel upset and potentially rudderless without their leader. Others – may feel relieved if they’ve had a difficult boss who was unsupportive.
Here are a few suggestions – including a few more that didn’t make it into the final article.
Hold the cheers – no matter how tempting!
If you didn’t like or respect your boss, it might be tempting to jump for joy or belt out that old tune from Wizard of Oz: “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”. That may feel fitting and funny in the moment – but don’t do it. It’s unprofessional and can backfire. Instead take the higher road and focus on the business of the day (see next tip).
Take stock of how this change impacts you, your team, and any projects that were in progress.
Get focused on the business at hand. What projects are in progress? What can you do? Chances are someone is going to eventually want to know a status update on projects – be the one who can provide a sound update. This will position you as both professional and helpful.
Keep moving forward and focused on what you can do even with some ambiguity in play.
Don’t use the current drama or ambiguity as a chance to slack off. Instead, lean in and keep on with the work that you can do while the situation is in flux. This may be noticed favourably and you will be seen as reliable, dependable, and professional.
Demonstrate leadership where you can.
This is a time to identify opportunities to show initiative and leadership. It might simply be on a project or it could be offering to coalesce the team and help create some order or even boost morale as you all work together and find a way forward. Be helpful with others such as peers, other stakeholders involved, and higher ups. This attitude and effort will show that you have what it takes for difficult situations and might open new opportunities for you. Many people have progressed to more senior roles by showing their leadership attitude, aptitudes, and aspirations when these kinds of situations (and opportunities) arose.
Tune in but stay above the fray of gossip and chatter.
While it’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground to understand the situation as it continues to unfold, do so without jumping into the gossip pool. By all means try to plug into news of further change, disruption, or even opportunities – so that you can stay on your toes and respond accordingly — but do so without the excess gossip and guessing.
Show your leadership without attachment to outcome.
I’ve heard clients ask me: Why would I put in all the extra effort without a guarantee that I will get promoted or get a higher title and pay?
This is a limiting perspective. Emerging leaders take note: Whether you are recognized formally (a promotion, pay raise, etc.) it’s still a good idea to step it up and show some leadership. This can help your career-ability immensely. You will gain new experience. You will have new accomplishments for your resume and your narrative in future conversations. And you will gain confidence by stretching yourself.
In sum, stay focused; stay above the fray; and do what you can do to keep things moving forward. You will be rewarded in more ways than you can imagine.
To leadership-ability at any stage in the continuum of your work (and life)!
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Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is a certified executive and leadership coach; a communications pro (20+ years of experience) and principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications in Toronto. Eileen draws from the science of positivity, leadership, neuroscience, emotional intelligence – and Conversational Intelligence®(C‐IQ®) in her work as a coach, consultant, trusted advisor, and facilitator.