How to Become your Boss's Boss
The title isn't misleading, but it's also not what you think. I'm not talking about how to get your boss demoted so you can then slide in and take their place. I'm talking about building a relationship with your boss so that when it comes time to make certain decisions and handle some big projects, he or she looks to you to make the call.
At my job, it became known that while my boss was the boss, I was the one making the decisions. It wasn't a secret. My boss was the one who first began saying it. Having that kind of responsibility wouldn't have been possible without these key steps.
1. Believe in Your Brand
You have to live and breathe what you do. You can't truly get ahead without caring about your company and believing in it. I personally believe passion will get you many places. It's also the best motivator. Being passionate at my job had me consistently looking into everything about our company, projects to be done, and consistently updating and improving us in many aspects.
That kind of care and passion shows and others will take notice. Don't just do it for recognition. Believe in it. People can spot a phony a mile away. We all can't chose our dream jobs so the passion may not come naturally. If you want to be the best, not just get ahead (two different things to me), then fake it till you make it.
2. Develop a Working Relationship
You often think of mentors as teachers or professors or maybe an athlete or celebrity. Let that mentor be your Boss. Don't look at him or her as just the one in charge of you. Look at them as someone to learn from. They are above you in status and that means they've had a lot longer to learn, so let them teach you.
My boss often told me I was going to be him one day. A working relationship came easy to us but it did take time. I had to prove myself and want it. I also had to do as he suggested without question. At times I may have disagreed, but first I needed to prove myself. By taking his advice often, I learned a lot. We developed a true mentor/prodigy dynamic and it worked well.
If I had come off sheepish, not really caring, uninterested, thinking I knew best, we wouldn't have been able to evolve.
3. Be On Top of Your Game
I had certain responsibilities at work. While I handled those, my boss would handle things that were his. In a typical situation, it would stay that way. However, I chose to do mine and then watch him do his. I hovered, asked questions, and slowly added more and more of his tasks to mine.
My Boss often said when I first started that I was meant to become his right hand. In order to do that, I had to pay close attention to everything and be aware of all that goes on. I couldn't wait for him to take hours every day teaching me each thing. He and I both had no time for that. I had to take he initiative myself, and it paid off.
4. Don't Be Conniving
If you're lucky, your boss will take you under their wing, teach you and mold you into rising up the ranks. No Boss however, wants to help someone who's looking to take their place sooner and not later. Of course we need to look out for ourselves, but in order to gain that working relationship I've been explaining, you need trust.
I didn't want to just stroll in, learn the goods quick, show off, then take over. I wanted to learn from the best as long as I could. If I wanted that job then I had to earn it. There's no reason I couldn't have taken that knowledge and used it in a similar position elsewhere.
Build on trust. Learn and make your moves without betrayal or a hidden agenda. Do things the right way. It's good karma!
5. Do Without Being Asked
This is easy. Don't wait till your Boss starts asking. Just do what needs to be done.
6. First, Think Like the Boss - Then, Think Like You
Another tip I can credit to having a great boss. When I was confronted with an angry customer on the phone and tell my Boss he should take it, he would tell me no. Naturally, I would be nervous and shocked and a little mad.
He would tell me "I'm dead, I'm gone, so now what are you gonna do?" Then he'd say, "What would I do?"
This seems dramatic, and it was. That was his style. So on the spot and on my own, I would handle it. As he suggested I'd think like him, and thanks to my observing him as often as possible I knew just what to say.
I did not always agree with handling customers complaints the same as he did. Once I proved myself enough, I was able to begin making my own choices. Slowly, I would do what he would do then combine it with what I would do. Sort of like adding a twist to his solution.
Once he saw I was capable, I was trusted to handle it as I saw fit. When we had disagreements over customer resolutions, he then would say "Do what you think is best." There was no bitterness in that statement. He trusted I'd do what I felt was right in that situation, he had no worry.
By doing all of the above and then some (I can only write so much), I was able to build a solid and beneficial working relationship with my boss. I became entrusted with key decisions and major responsibilities by showing how much I care and gaining my Boss' trust.
While my Boss will always remain a mentor, he's able now to come to me for advice or assistance on making decisions. When he's overwhelmed with his "boss duties", he looks to me to handle the tasks he doesn't have the focus for.
If you want that kind of power, earn it by following the tips above. Remember, EARN it!
**I capitalize Boss because I'm using it in place of my boss' name