This is the third in my series on Managing My Boss. This one is on how to manage a boss with the ‘Big Daddy’ attitude. Such a boss tends to be very protective about his team and tries to provide an environment where his team can flourish and grow.


Recently a client of ours, mentioned how he feels compelled to protect his team from the vagaries of the corporate life. I could see, his chest swelling up with pride when he talked about how he effectively told one of the business heads to buzz off – when he created trouble for his team members. After all, the team member was part of his brood, his clan! That got me thinking.

For starters, let’s assume that most bosses are well-intentioned. These well-intentioned bosses fall in love with their role and their team. And when you love something, you want to protect it. In this case, these bosses want to protect their teams from the hazards of corporate life. So, they will keep their teams in the safe zone always. Protecting them from ugly office politics, shielding from other bully businesses, safeguarding them from uncouth customers and more. They take on the burden of providing cover. They worry that if the team is exposed to the ugliness of life, people will get disenchanted and might move on.

Therefore, this boss will keep them away from the ugly truths. Unfortunately, this ‘big daddy’ attitude can be harmful in the long run.

You guessed it right! Such teams get used to being molly-coddled, forgetting that one day they have to jump out of their safe pond. The small safe pond inhibits their growth, their ability to deal with challenges.

Just like we allow our child to fall down a couple of times before she learns to walk, similarly bosses need to allow their teams to go through the pains and challenges before they build the resistance and resilience required to flourish. But our boss considers himself to be a hero, buffering all the bad news, taking on the muck, without so much as letting us know how tough things could be.

In this whole process, we get deprived of learning experiences, where we could have understood how to deal with tough situations.

Now, the question is how do we deal with such a boss? We need to show the maturity that we can deal with challenges & the toxins of the corporate jungle. We need to reassure the ‘big daddy’ that we can display the courage and smartness needed to manoeuvre our way around. Some of the things you could do:

  • Ask for a project where you need to collaborate with other departments
  • Ask for additional responsibilities
  • Solve problems – which otherwise you would wait for your boss to solve
  • Own your development plan and have frequent progress review discussions.

Write in to us for more tips on handling the ‘big daddy’ syndrome before it kills your career.

At Able Ventures we provide insights to improve performance for professionals and organizations.

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