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What to Do If You Work for a Coward

No one wants to work for a cowardly boss. A manager who avoids difficult issues, praises poor performance, or tries to buy loyalty by saying yes to any idea can have a paralyzing impact on their team. There are a few things you can do if you’re in this situation.  


Publish Date: February 26, 2020

First, avoid the temptation to gossip behind your boss’s back. Sure, you may want to vent, but it will only end up making you look bad. Instead, study their behavior. What makes your boss fearful? If you were in their shoes, what would you do differently? Next, redouble your efforts to respectfully raise dissenting views. Talk openly about difficult decisions, making your hard choices visible to your colleagues. This will set you apart, while allowing you to maintain your integrity. It may feel awkward or unfair to “role model up,” but don’t underestimate the power of a positive example. Also, as difficult as it might seem, ask your boss for what you need — being direct in this situation may be the best way to get it. Finally, think about whether your boss is an exception or whether they’re representative of the company’s culture. If cowardice is the norm, it might not be a place you want to stay.

(This tip comes from and is adapted from “How to Work for a Cowardly Boss,” by Ron Carucci)

If it’s time to find a new job, turn to AORN’s Career Center to find the most current opportunities for perioperative nurses of all levels with positions across the country. And don’t forget, AORN members’ benefits include career coaching services with Dr. Phyllis Quinlan.