This is the second in my series on Managing My Boss. This one is on how to manage a ‘Pace – Setter’ boss who tends to set high expectations from his team members and insists on leading by example, thereby limiting his team’s ability to think and act creatively.

We have all had tough bosses but some of the real tough ones are the ‘Pace Setters’. These are the bosses who lead by example. Nothing wrong in setting an example. That’s what leader are supposed to do right? Turns out that pace setter bosses are considered the hardest ones to work for!

They are the embodiment of performance and achievement. I know of a company which recently decided to become agile in execution. The intent is right, but one of the top bosses took on the avatar of ‘agility’. He would set tight deadlines for execution and would spend considerable amount of his own time in execution if he found the pace of his team slacking. He was doing it in the right spirit – travelling across cities, meeting clients, pitching, negotiating, closing deals, drawing up contracts and more which his sales team should have done & perhaps would have done – if given space.

Such bosses have a history of achievement and success. They believe in being a role model and are pretty sure that the team would catch up. But usually their levels of performance are so high, that I have seen the teams slowing down further. And over a period of time, the teams resign themselves to their fate – of never being able to catch-up.

So how can one deal with such bosses.

For starters, you might want to set your own standard of performance and communicate it pro-actively to your boss. So, if there is an overall departmental target to be met, you might want to set your own target (which is not too easy!!) in alignment with your departmental goal. Or if you have a performance appraisal discussion coming up, you could choose to put down your accomplishments and your development areas. The next step then is to proactively set up a meeting and discuss your plans with your pace-setter boss. Do remember to share your plan of action. You might also want to set up regular review dates to show your progress.

A good way of thinking would be to ask yourself “why is he worried? What can I do to ensure that he feels confident about my performance?”

With such bosses, don’t suggest that you need more meetings. Don’t ask a lot of questions about why you’re doing things and how they fit into the big picture. They expect you to have gotten the picture automatically. The key is to earn their trust quickly by turning in consistently excellent work. This is not a leader with whom you want to be modest. So, take on extra work to show that you are capable.

But be aware that working for a pace – setting leader can wreak havoc on work-life balance and lead to exhaustion and burn-out in the long run.

To know more about how to deal with such bosses. Write in to us at

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

Prefer watching a video instead? Click here to watch the video log.