The direction the Leading From Behind Boss gives you is often vague, with no clear purpose. He (she) sometimes pushes you to do things that you’re pretty sure shouldn’t be done, yet is rarely available or willing to answer questions or provide guidance. When things go wrong, he’s behind you all the way – way behind you, and beating a hasty retreat. You, the scapegoat, are left all alone to deal with the fallout.
This is a boss who is typically very insecure, not much of a strategic thinker, and doesn’t place a great deal of importance on loyalty. They are very difficult types of individuals to work for, because you’re never sure when you might be hung out to dry. In Winning with the Boss from Hell, there’s a chapter titled, “Covering your Butt 101,” and these bosses are a perfect example of when these techniques are beneficial.
Cover Your Butt
One strategy which is particularly useful in these situations is to always send confirming emails or memos whenever you think you may be becoming vulnerable. It’s not as simple, however, as just sending an email that says, “Dear Boss: Just to confirm our conversation of October 5th…” Emails and memos like that will send big red flags to your boss. Being pretty good at covering her butt himself, the Leading from Behind boss will recognize the purpose of the email when he reads it, and things could get ugly.
You’re better off trying to be a little more subtle. Try instead an informal email that asks a question. For example: “Hi Boss: I’m just beginning that project ABC you asked me to do. What was the deadline again?…”
When they respond to you, they are also confirming that the project (and the details you included in the email) originated from them. Save the emails and their responses in a safe place. They will provide great protection if a “he said-she said” discussion breaks out.