I met someone recently who heard me speak at an international conference a few years ago. She was managing the local office for a major American media ministry in that country. She told me that after hearing me speak at the original conference, she was excited to go back and start using the ideas I shared, but when she talked to her boss, he completely shut her down.
“That isn’t the way we do things here” (a phrase you’ve probably heard before.) He wasn’t remotely interested, so she was in a quandary. Her boss was a traditional thinker, and a little fearful as well. She wanted to be respectful to him, but she also knew the ideas would work.
After reflecting on her options, the woman told me that instead of fighting the boss, she would just start quietly implementing my ideas on her own. Without making a big deal, she started making tiny changes behind the scenes, starting with her own work habits. As others saw her becoming more productive, they started adopting the ideas as well.
Now, 3 years later she wanted to tell me that since activating those ideas I taught, their office has grown exponentially. In fact, she shared that her relatively small country’s office now represents more than a third of the total ministry’s worldwide income and response.
I realized in that moment that regular, everyday employees don’t have to feel frustrated or shut down when working with a stubborn, traditional thinking boss. Always start with yourself. Make small changes where you can, and let it grow from there.
And for the record, I’m not advocating disobedience in the office. Leaders deserve respect, and that’s why I suggest you start small and start with yourself. Make sure it’s working, and only then increase the changes as you’re comfortable. My friend John Maxwell calls it “Leading from the middle.”
And her boss?
He still has no clue. But he’s thrilled at their success.