Six strategies to cope when a leader isn’t what you’d hoped for

What do you do if you hate the leader appointed to lead you?  A lot of people have been asking themselves this very question during the last week, both inside USA and worldwide.  Surprisingly, there are plenty of people happy about the outcome of the US election, but a significant number aren’t and are making their feelings very clear. “Not My President” adorns the foreheads of many protesters at the moment; acceptance of the voters’ verdict isn’t on the table.

Some are openly considering moving to another country.

Whether it’s the U.S. of A or a new senior appointee where you work, there are six strategies to cope and progress your life when a leader isn’t what you’d hoped for.

1. Don’t keep reliving the past – learn from it

The past is extremely useful, but only if one heeds the lessons. This isn’t to suggest that one disregards the past entirely, simply that we must navigate where we have now arrived. I don’t believe one should airbrush the past from one’s memory, but it can depress and debilitate if constantly relived and reimagined.

Consider the terrain, note down where the warnings were, the indicators that led to other possible life choices, and use these to remain vigilant in the present. Make a point of studying the past, then commence writing your present (and hence your future).

2. Don’t blame, accuse or assume “if only… then”

Blaming is inevitable. So are accusations and wishful thinking. Hillary supporters are definitely going through this and opponents like Giuliani are rubbing their noses in it. In the workplace, you can probably name or think of deserving candidates who would have walked over a new appointment. We can think of examples in virtually any public / private CEO capacity that you’d care to name.

For whatever combination of reasons, the new regime is now in place. Now is a good time to make an in depth, dispassionate study of them. Vent if you must, but be private about it and don’t endlessly chew over the seemingly unfair outcome. Ongoing venting and anger keeps you stuck in the past and eventually sick. Far better to be constructive now and to concentrate energies on rebuilding and re-configuring, in order to stay ahead of the game.

3. Change yourself when you can’t change a fact

You don’t need to be a fake about it. You don’t need to mindlessly simper and act like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes in order to advance your interests. The leader is bound to make errors of judgment and / or to be poorly advised. By adopting a calmer, dispassionate facade, you begin to see the landscape. Above all, keep your expectations grounded; not pessimistic, but realistic.

This is accomplished by marshalling properly thought-through reasoning and evidence, and maintaining your integrity and an “eyes wide-open” approach.

4. Be gracious and caring

You may have to wait till the undesirable celebrations die down. Hold your head high, let your actions speak louder than the white noise that surrounds you. Look around for those impacted by the change, and provide quiet assistance. Show that you care.

Help yourself and others through getting on with the prerogatives that count, and the oasis you build will gradually emerge. It won’t be apparent for a while, but gradually, various animals of different species will seek solace at the waterhole.

5. Help others become constructive

This is vital because many will bemoan and denigrate the new status quo, all the more so when something patently unfair or distantly disastrous emerges. It is all too tempting to join in. By all means, have one good vent, but it’s better to begin the process of marshalling energies, brains and goodwill.

There will be arguments of course about how this may be achieved. Democracies cannot exist without debate, but space is needed to let new ideas and solutions emerge.

Sometimes old ideas prove best; at other times, something from “outside the box” is what’s needed. Focus on green pastures. Adopt an open, encouraging mindset, and continue to inform yourself of developments both in your sphere and beyond. This is preferable to constant criticism (though critiques are necessary).

6. Plan for a successful future

By following the above and keeping your head and emotions intact, this sharpens your ability to take in current circumstances while preparing for what’s ahead. It is a form of what some Western philosophers would describe as enlightened self-interest, while Eastern thinking views it as bending with the wind. Both are essential to eventual success and long-term survival.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.