How to survive a Weasel Boss | – Leader Development for Army Professionals

How to survive a Weasel Boss

The most obvious sign of the weasel boss is that he is untrustworthy, especially with the people who work for him. The weasel is looking out for himself and cares little about anyone else, unless he thinks they can help him advance his image as a great leader. Disloyalty is his middle name and he will quickly deny that he told you to do something, if it suits his purposes.

Command Sgt. Maj. Sikora was in charge of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy for the command. He was very well spoken and always looked like he had just stepped out of a recruiting advertisement. His personal goal was to be a division command sergeant major and he was frustrated at having been sidelined into his current job. He was ambitious, but more than that, he was ruthless when he had the opportunity to make another NCO look bad. This included his own subordinates. Whenever anything went wrong at the academy, he was quick to identify and crucify whichever of his NCOs he felt was responsible, even if the error was not their fault or if they had been doing exactly what he had told them to do. His personal motto was “Always keep a toad between yourself and the problem.” As a result, few NCOs wanted to work at the academy and those who did were always on edge, fearing the next blow of Command Sgt. Maj. Sikora’s ax. To his superiors, his organization looked good, but inside it was an angry hive of discontent.

How to survive a weasel boss

“The weasel is looking out for himself and cares little about anyone else, unless he thinks they can help him advance his image as a great leader.”

If you find yourself working for a weasel, treat him or her with care. Be certain that you are following all the rules and their directions to the letter. This is not a time for initiative.  Cooperate closely with you peers in a self-defense network, by insuring that whenever possible you aren’t working alone. Having witnesses present can protect you from false  accusations. Meet the standards and expect to be dinged, but by all means you must appear loyal to this type of boss. The name of the game when you are working for a weasel is damage control. Never go over their head to their superiors or higher headquarters for a decision and be very careful about what you write in e-mails. While this may sound counter-intuitive, consult the weasel for career guidance, even if you have no intention of using his advice, and work with him to get moved to your next job for career development. Ironically, weasel bosses enjoy bragging to their peers about how they recognized and developed the talent of the people who worked for them. Moving out of the weasel’s organization may take some time, so patience is essential. There is an old Army saying that if you don’t like the person you are working for, just wait. Sooner or later they’ll leave or you’ll leave.

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posted on 12/03/2010 under Articles
Jo B. Rusin is a retired soldier, who spent the majority of her career in Regular Army troop units from platoon leader to commander of a support brigade in the Gulf War. As a combat service support soldier, Jo B. served in units composed of both men and women from all racial and ethnic groups. She is a strong believer in the ability of soldiers to succeed, regardless of whether they are men or women or where they came from. Jo B. is the author of a number of military leadership books, including Move Out: The Insider's Guide for Military Leaders; Move to the Front: The Classic Guide for Military Women; and Women on Your Team: A Man's Guide to Leading Women.

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  • Part-Time-Commander

    You offer some great points, Jo.

    I once had a NCO under my supervision who was a weasel boss. To me, his superior, everything looked fine. His section got the mission done, was very disciplined, and kept their issues to themselves.

    Of course, that was from the outside looking in, not the inside looking out. I later found out that he treated his Soldiers badly, morale was at an all time low, and many of his Soldiers ETSd or asked to be transferred, because of his ineffective, dictator style leadership.

    Looking back, I should have seen it, but I didn’t. Sometimes a weasel can fool his own boss too!

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