1. Work to develop a positive relationship. Any successful relationship – whether professional or personal – requires effort. I’ve worked for people I couldn’t find any common ground with. The relationship deterioriated to the point that if he said the sky was blue, I’d disagree, just on principal. Then at a seminar one day, we were asked to name the most ethical person we’d ever worked with. To our mutual surprise, we named the same person. We discussed it and were able to build a positive relationship from there.
2. Work from the boss’s viewpoint. Just as you’re in it for you, your boss is in it for him/herself as well. And since they’re the boss, what they say ultimately goes. Find out what their goals are and help in attaining those goals.
3. Look for the best in your boss. You’re not going to change your boss (or your partner, for that matter), so stop trying. You need to adapt to their style and behavior, not the other way around.
4. Learn from the boss. Whether you like or respect your boss, there are things you can learn from them. Some of the most valuable management skills I’ve learned are from bosses I didn’t like or respect. In learning what I didn’t like, I was able to avoid those characteristics in my subsequent leadership roles.
5. Ask for feedback. Don’t rely on the possibility that your boss will give you feedback – ask him or her for it frequently. Bosses should like playing the mentor role, and will be able to work better with you once they’ve communicated their feedback to you.
6. Value your boss’s time. Schedule meetings, don’t interrupt.
7. Accept that sometimes you will disagree. It’s business. He or she is the boss. Understand that when you’re in a position someday to make decisions, you may do it differently; but for now, get over it.