How to Be a Boss – Better Than Your Boss


Seek out additional responsibilities and advance your career.


You know the drill. Your boss went away on vacation, you stepped up to the plate. Check that – not only did you step up to the plate, you knocked the ball out of the park!


While your manager was out, you not only successfully and seamlessly handled your own workload, but also responsibilities associated with their role – from emergencies to additional leadership responsibilities, albeit temporarily.


A week or two later, they returned to the office and, just like that, you reverted to your regular role, feeling deflated. Admit it: You may have also even found out that you could do certain elements of the job better than your boss, and are now feeling frustrated in your more junior role. Well, you're not alone – in a recent Monster poll, 61 percent of respondents said they feel they could do a better job than their boss.


So take action. Remember, you stepped it up, took on new responsibilities and enjoyed the view. Instead of looking at the experience negatively because you're disappointed to go back to your original position, here are several ways you can leverage that stint in leadership as a stepping stone to something more permanent.



Elevate yourself (tactfully). While you certainly don't want your boss to think you're vying to take over their position, you should definitely debrief after they get back from vacation. Schedule time on their calendar to get them up to speed on what happened while they were away and then mention that you enjoyed stepping into their shoes. You can say something non-threatening like, "I don't want you to think I'm trying to get your job, but if there's anything you want to take off of your plate and delegate to me to handle going forward, I'd be happy to."




Granted, you may open yourself up to some grunt work, but in the grand scheme of things, that's a step in the right direction. You're simply stating the truth, showing your ambition and demonstrating you're capable of taking on more responsibility. Chances are, your boss will appreciate the candid conversation and be more than happy to give you one or more additional responsibilities going forward.


Take on those additional responsibilities. In case your boss isn't more forthcoming and wants to hold onto a lot of things, specifically state what areas you'd like to own. Perhaps there's an initiative within the company that intersects with other departments, or maybe there's a project you want to brainstorm and subsequently launch.


Explain to your boss that you are hungry to take on additional work and explore how you can effectively help the department and perhaps even the organization as a whole. Instead of asking for something generic like "more work," decide prior to the meeting which specific projects you have the desire and ability to do, and which you don't. Then, you'll have a specific strategy for taking on more tasks. Otherwise, you may get stuck not only with work you don't want to do, but also potentially end up overloaded with more work than time realistically allows.


Update your resume. Again, instead of feeling disappointed that your boss returned to their role and that your enjoyment from those escalated responsibilities was short-lived, take this as an opportunity to build your confidence and bolster your resume.


What did you work on while your boss was out? How can you add a few bullets to your resume based on your time as an interim leader? What challenges arose and how did you handle them? How did your peers respond to your leadership style? How did you multi-task when additional work was on your plate? While updating your resume, figure out what you truly enjoyed doing versus what you just dealt with but would prefer not to take on again. Get specific. This will help you with the next point.


Find a new job. Now that you know what you're capable of in the short term, imagine how well you can handle these situations when you're empowered in a leadership role for the long term! Yes, it's a let down to go back to your original responsibilities, but remember that your experience as a manager counts! It's motivation for you to think about looking for a new job, and fodder for explaining why you're ready for a new leadership role during interviews.


Ask yourself, "When will I realistically be promoted if my boss doesn't move on?" Assume they're happy and that they aren't leaving anytime soon. Do you really want to do your current job for a while, knowing that you're capable of doing so much more? Chances are, the next time you're handling more responsibility for a short amount of time with, of course, no added compensation, you'll realize your best course of action may be self-promotion – to your boss's level with a new employer.