How To Handle An Angry Boss and Prima Donnas

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It happens all the time, but even once is too often: You have a client for whom you've prepared an important report, and you find that somehow, despite your best efforts, the report has been shipped off with errors.

"In most financial services organizations, your boss will be apoplectic at this point," says Boulder, Co.-based leadership coach Jim Warner, a frequent consultant to investment banking institutions, M&A organizations, hedge funds, and wealth management firms and co-author, with his daughter Kaley Klemp, of The Drama Free Office.

His advice: Focus on damage control. If you're the analyst who's made the error, by all means tell the boss you regret the mistake but keep your emphasis on finding a way to make the boss look good.

"If you take all the blame yourself, you can end up wallowing in a well of guilt," Warner tells eFinancialCareers, and that won't help. "You feel bad already," he adds, so go ahead and forgive yourself so you can focus on brainstorming about how to go forward.

Arrogant Know-It-Alls

There are times when it seems the high-octane financial sector is a haven for arrogant, know-it-all personalities who are used to always being right and getting their way, says Warner. These sorts of managers are controlling personalities who require a particular kind of finesse. It won't be easy, warns the career coach. Among other things, you have to take a good hard assessment of your own ego and own your need to be right and let that go. "It doesn't mean you need to be a wimp," says Warner. The key is learning not to care all that much about who gets the credit for your efforts and to let go of the need to be better than everybody else-admittedly a tall order for the best and brightest financial services associates.

Goal is to Enjoy Your Job

If you remember that your goal is to enjoy doing your job and not be micro-managed while doing it, you won't fret if your boss gets much of the glory for the work of your team. You'll know in advance that if you are going to offer him your recommendations, you'll prepare a suite of options-all of them acceptable to you-from which he or she can choose. "Let your boss think it's his or her decision" that's been made in the end, says Warner. Let them feel they're the ones with all the answers.

Steve Lockshin, chairman and CEO at Convergent Wealth Advisors in Washington, D.C., has worked with Warner on several occasions and in different forums over the past few years.

At one stage, when Convergent was still combined with Fortigent-a wealth management consultant to independent advisors-Warner and his daughter helped facilitate an executive retreat.

Lockshin recalls how they had each member of the team in a chair in the center of the room while the others stated what it was about the individual they most appreciated. Next, the team said what they liked least about the subject. Warner helped everyone to see that the thing they liked least in the other team members was also the thing they liked least about themselves.

"It sounds touchy-feely, but it took a high-functioning group to a higher level of function," says Lockshin.

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