Has your boss ever come back to work after a long weekend and his personality was much more pleasant than it was before? If he’s also more confident, then that means his Match.com rendezvous took pity on him. But if his pleasantness is annoying, like he’s in student council, then he probably went to a leadership training seminar—which is a lot like student council.
Goofy congeniality isn’t a definitive sign leadership training, so to be sure you know what you’re dealing with, here are seven signs that your boss did in fact go to a leadership seminar. This is useful information because if your boss thinks leadership comes from taking notes from a guy who teaches leadership seminars, then you can probably take his job.
1. He says “good question” in response to a bad question
Ask your boss a stupid question at the next meeting like, “Will this PowerPoint presentation have page numbers?” If his introduction to a jovial answer is “good question,” then chances are he has cried himself to sleep in a Marriott while attending a leadership seminar.
2. Overuse of Outlook events calendar
If your boss just got back from a leadership seminar and needs to ask you how to undo an undo in Excel, you better believe you’re getting an Outlook events calendar invitation for this “meeting.”
3. He explains projects like a preschool teacher explains finger-painting
Leadership seminars teach that it’s not what you say it’s how you say it. This is true, but if you’re the kind of guy who goes to leadership seminars, you’ll take this to mean that you should talk to everyone like they’re a child. This demeanor is the first layer in the onion that is over-conscientiousness, so get ready for some textbook displays of micromanagement coming around the bend.
4. Theme days
Uh oh, theme days. If your co-workers start wearing a superhero t-shirts to work on Friday, you know that means your boss went somewhere. Not that there’s anything wrong with having fun, but there is something wrong with having fun at work. As a rule, the more fun your boss tries to have at work, the less the work makes him happy, or the less he expects the work to make you happy.
5. Weird shoulder touches
If your boss touches your shoulder when he talks to you, then he’s trying to create some sort of connection. Since he just learned to make this literal human contact last weekend at a leadership seminar, it will be forced and therefore weird. For instance, he’ll do it when you say something to him as opposed to when he says something to you. I guess you have to start somewhere, though.
6. He’ll take responsibility for everything
If you suspect your boss may be a recent leadership seminar graduate, completely mess up a project that you’ve done many times before that did not involve your boss in any way. If he takes responsibility for your mistakes, since that’s what he’s supposed to do as a cookie-cutter leader, then he definitely went to a leadership seminar.
7. Still says “um”
Your boss can of course make a conscious effort to be a leader, but subconsciously he’ll communicate that he’s definitely not a leader by still overusing “um” as an adverb.
Becoming a good leader is like losing weight: we all want to do it, and no matter how hard we have all tried, it remains elusive for most of us. Opportunists realize this, which is why the world is full of crappy weight loss schemes and crappy leadership seminars. The only way to truly become a better leader is to get others to believe in you, which won’t happen until you cultivate the self-esteem to believe in others, and yourself.
Besides, everyone knows deep down that “Ice Cream Wednesdays” is a euphemism for “Self-Doubt Wednesdays.”