Dealing with difficult situations with leaders is one of the top issues for Gen Y, according to participant questions in the hot new UGotClass Certificate in Leadership Development.
Here’s four good questions Gen Yers asked, and the answers.
Q1. What would be a good course of action when one asks the leader a question and the leader goes around the bushes and winds up not giving the response I was looking for. Should I follow up after the meeting? Should I follow up right away or should I wait until the next day? Should I rephrase my inquiry when following up? – Kevin in Delaware.
Answer. Do not immediately follow up in any way with the person who “goes around the bushes and winds up not giving the retort you were looking for.”
– If you do, there is a good chance the person will regard you as being antagonistic or confrontational, which is not good for you.
– Instead, you should approach someone you trust and ask the person if s/he could clarify the leader’s response somehow. If you pose the situation as you “just not understanding clearly” what was said, then you again are not perceived as being pushy, antagonistic, etc.
-Then keep a look out for others asking similar questions or the leader responding to others in some way that gives you a clue what is going on.
-Finally, if you are willing to risk it, 1-2 months later ask your question differently and see what kind of response you get.
– It just sounds like something is going on and you need to figure it out. If it was just a misunderstanding, then the trusted person will let you know. But if something is going on, then re-asking the same question too soon has a great danger, in my experience, of having the person being alienated and then shutting you out in the future.
Q2. If the leader is late to a meeting, how long should the attendees wait before going returning to work? Elisa in Stockton, CA.
Answer. Elisa, wait ten minutes. Feel free to leave a message (text; email; just on the table) and try to suggest you can come back for the meeting and that you understand something might have come up.
Just to be clear: it’s not o.k. for a leader to be late to a meeting. The leader should send a representative, or email attendees, but let people know if something came up and tell them what to do.
Q3. I find that there is a certain confidence that leaders exude, regardless of whether they know what they are talking about or not. It can seem rather intimidating. Do you have any tips for overcoming this? = Andrea in Turlock, CA
Answer. Andrea, the first question/decision on your part is whether you have confidence in the leader. Let’s assume you do respect the leader.
But s/he is still intimidating, and that’s natural. And there’s nothing a leader can really do about that, even the nice personable down-to-earth ones.
So here’s how you address that. You let the leader know, again assuming you have confidence in him or her, that you understand you are inexperienced and wishing to develop your leadership skills, and that anything she or he can say or point out to you would be helpful and welcome by you. Do this one-on-one, not before anyone else. Could be an email, although F2F you would be better able to gauge her/his reaction.
From then on, it is very probable that the leader will help you a) to know in what circumstances and in what ways s/he feels you should contribute; and b) what content subject areas s/he feels your contributions would, and would not, be welcomed.
From then on, shift your thinking from “intimidated” to “respectful.” Gradually, when you are ready and when you feel comfortable, you will come to know when, how and what to say/contribute/suggest.
Til then, just listening is the best way to learn, and leaders almost universally respect a good listener.
Q4. What do you do when a direct supervisor of yours is providing incorrect information to the customer? – Michelle in Kenosha, WI.
Answer. Michelle, you have three choices. One is pretty much fatal. Resist the urge to tell the customer the correct info in front of your supervisor, unless it was an immediate life or death situation.
Your other two options:
- Talk to your supervisor afterwards. Pose it as you asking a question rather than correcting him/her.
- Someone contacts the customer with the correct info. The best person is probably not you, but if you need to, do it. Phone is less traceable.
If there is someone else in your organization who could contact either your supervisor or the customer, that is the best route. You stay out of it if you can.
LERN’s hot new UGotClass Certificate in Leadership Development is offered four times a year. It is geared to Gen Yers in the workplace. LERN members can take it for half-price. Email Leslie at email@example.com to get the 50 percent discount.