Tips for Dealing with an Imperfect Boss

by Jennifer Miller on April 14, 2014

in Book Review, Leadership

Imperfect Boss book coverIt’s easy to toss off “nobody’s perfect” in response to someone’s shortcomings when the stakes are small. But, in an important relationship such as the one we have with our boss, we are far less likely to be so benevolent. In truth, nobody is “perfect” and this goes for those with leadership titles as well. As Karin Hurt, author of the forthcoming book Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss writes,

The perfect boss is as elusive as the ideal mate. And yet, we’re frustrated when our leaders fall short of our impossible expectations.

Karin, writer of the award-winning Let’s Grow Leaders blog and an executive with experience leading the human resources, sales and customer service functions in large companies, presents a unique twist on leadership in her book. She starts with the premise that all “bosses” are flawed (in that we’re all human, after all) and then proceeds to show us how their followers can still build a thriving, productive relationship with any type of leader (yes, even the “jerks’!)

Throughout this succinctly written book, you’ll find very specific advice and tools to help your boss “become the boss you need.” As a bonus, if you’re in a leadership role, you can also use this book to reflect on how to “become the boss you wish you had.”

The bulk of the book’s content is contained in chapter three, in which Karin outlines 10 “tough scenes”—typical scenarios the reader may encounter when dealing with their boss—including:

  • How to persuade your boss
  • How to deliver bad news (using the very cleverly named “D.A.R.N.” acronym)
  • Building trust with your boss
  • Working for a disengaged boss
  • Dealing with a moody boss

Each scene contains advice from Karin on how to proceed, plus additional tips for navigating that tricky situation.

Another section of the book that I particularly enjoyed was chapter six: “Becoming the Boss You Wish You Had”, in which the reader completes a simple, yet powerful matrix that leads the reader to imagine their ideal boss, as well considering as the reader’s unique leadership style.

In the book, Karin offers advice for communicating with executives: write in bullet points and summaries.  Karin followed her own advice when writing this book: it’s a super-quick read, with absolutely no filler. Every page gets directly to the point and then moves on. In fact, there are times when I would have liked to read a bit more of Karin’s wisdom and philosophy on the page, similar to the very thought-provoking blog posts she writes. Perhaps I’ll get my wish; in the Acknowledgements section of this book, Karin alludes to a second book that she’s writing.

If Karin’s follow-up book is as useful and easy-to-read as this one, you can look forward to another book review here on The People Equation.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for the purposes of writing this review. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This does not increase the cost of your purchase and I only refer to products that I think will benefit you, the reader.


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