There are many good reasons to be a good boss of those rebels and mavericks. But the real reason to coach rebels like a rock star is to train yourself for those teenage years.
There are many good reasons to be a good boss of those rebels and mavericks. But the real reason to coach rebels like a rock star is to train yourself for those teenage years.
In work and in life we are often called to do things that other people should be doing. Like the calls I keep getting from Debbie’s mother at the nursing home.
A very short story about blizzards and business crises,
I was cleaning my office (!) and found a speech from 18 years ago given by Rod Oldham, of then Bell South, to students at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. In an age of disruption, some “truths” stay constant.
The two-hour session devolved into conversations about personalities, systems limitations, approval hold-ups by the legal department, problems uncovered by market research, frustrations with the sales strategy, and a concluding “why do we keep talking about the same problems over and over?”
People left frustrated, exhausted and angry. Not much of significance had been accomplished. Such a waste of time.
And no wonder. When conversations get pulled into the emotion of drama and problems our primitive brain takes over and shuts off our higher order intelligence, says Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence. In other words, drama begets drama instead of any useful ideas on how to accomplish what’s at stake.
Interestingly I was in a recent academic meeting focused on innovation and creativity that also fell into the rat hole of drama, problems, details, and more drama. Guess how creative and innovative that two hours turned out to be?
Quiet Leadership author David Rock suggests two practices that I find helpful. Agree in meetings on where to focus the conversation: vision, planning, detail, problem and drama. Wherever possible, keep all conversations focused on vision and planning. In this positive, low-anxiety mental state we’re better able to think fully and creatively
When you have to discuss detail, focus on one detail in a 10 minute chunk. After 10 minutes, we lose our ability to concentrate on that topic, says John Medina, author of Brain Rules. “You’ve got seconds to grab someone’s attention and only 10 minutes to keep it. At 9 minutes and 59 seconds, something must be done to regain attention and restart the clock.”
I see another opportunity in staying focused on the bigger picture: it is in this positive frame of mind that we’re more able to disagree in productive, creative ways. Because our minds are calmer and we’re focused on shared goals in this mindset, we’re able to intellectually consider and discuss alternatives. There’s a higher order of thinking that’s possible during this mental state, say the neuroscientists.
Once we get into drama and pointing fingers at people and problems, dissent becomes dangerous and unhelpful.
Not to mention that there’s no emotional energy left for compassion or creativity.
I’ve taken a new professional vow: keep the meetings I’m in focused on solutions, and out of drama and problems. Want to join me?
But today’s word is complex, more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a chessboard.
In a complex system it’s almost impossible for top-down leaders to create order, hard as they may try. Order emerges in complex systems from the bottom up, said Carne.
This metaphor is quite powerful to me. Are we leaders fostering participatory environments for people to create the change needed to succeed in an increasingly complex world? Or are we playing chess, with top down hierarchies moving the pieces? (And with the implicit assumption that executives know best?) Are we saying we want creativity but requiring employees to paint by numbers?
Change is a-comin. Are we brave enough to let go of status and certainty and create new participatory ways to work, to innovate, to prosper?
Here’s how I got the group unstuck. It might be helpful to you when someone uses the common “Yes, but we don’t have the money/people/time” refrain about new approaches or ideas.
“You all are stretched to the limit,” I said. “And let’s remember that we find resources for priorities that are important to us. Things that aren’t so important don’t get funded. Maybe the real conversation here is that this program just isn’t that important to the company right now. Maybe you should together decide it’s not important, and stop frustrating yourselves by bringing it up at every strategy session.”
Radio silence. (And one executive quietly laughing in acknowledgement.)
The group decided that the issue is important and they figured out a way to get a basic approach working within the next few weeks. It’s not the Cadillac or Four Seasons version, but it begins to provide value and address a real need in the company.
When someone throws objections, get to the real issue and get out of the endlessly frustrating and unproductive ” why not” objections.
“Find the disruptive people in your organization. They have the ideas that will drive change,” said Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System, a $4 billion healthcare organization with 23,000 employees.
Speaking at the BIF8 innovation conference last week in Providence, RI, Nancy shared what has helped her transform an ailing health care system and create innovations in health care such as a new $360 million health and wellness facility that feels more like a luxury hotel than a hospital.
Transforming healthcare is all about leadership, she said. Her leadership approach focuses on creating an “incredible” environment for every person to reach their full potential. How she has created such an environment:
Hearing her talk I was reminding of the wonderful poem by Kaylin Haught, “God Says Yes To Me.” Imagine if CEOs said yes, yes, yes to more of their employees, especially the disruptive corporate rebels?
Not only would organizations be able to innovate and change more quickly, a wonderful sense of joy would permeate the workplace — even in high-stress environments in struggling urban areas, like the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Carmen Medina and I are on a mission to help rebels in the workforce be more successful. We believe these outsider thinkers inside big organizations have the answers leaders need to adapt, grow, thrive, even survive. As part of our journey into helping rebels we’ve been asking ourselves all kinds of questions to understand why leaders don’t listen more to rebels. Yesterday Carmen posted about her recent epiphany on Rebels at Work. Here’s her “aha” about diversity initiatives and rebels.
As most of you know, I served for 32 years at the Central Intelligence Agency. During my last ten years there, I would attend recruiting and outreach events where I would answer questions about my career at the Agency. Given who I am, I was often asked this question: “Could you talk about what it was like being a woman and a minority at the Agency?” And I always gave the same answer: “Actually, neither of those was as much of an issue for me as just being a different thinker. Somehow I often saw things differently from everyone else.”
I was recalling this last week when I was thinking about what I might say at a couple of events I’ve been invited to speak at associated with Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts this coming week. (It’s actually not a month, but a 30-day period from 15 September to 15 October.) And as I said out loud the previous paragraph, it came to me like the most gigantic “DUH” moment you can imagine. POW! A giant fist bopped me on the head.
Q. You mean that it took you until one month before your 58th Birthday to figure that out!!
A. Sadly, yes.
Many sincere attempts to diversify organizations fail because the organization’s leadership does not appreciate that any significant diversity effort is in fact an organizational change effort. It could very well end up being transformational for the company.
When different types of people enter the workforce–women, minorities–many actually become default Rebels at Work, although they often are not aware of their dual identities. People with different backgrounds should bring different perspectives and ideas with them. (Although truth be told, many learn as early as high school to stop volunteering their different ideas when they realize they are not welcomed.) And yet you often hear leaders say: “It’s a shame about so-and-so. Some interesting ideas but he doesn’t quite know how to fit in.” or “You have great potential but you need to learn to be more corporate.”
And that’s how diversity initiatives degrade and become more about the Appearance of Diversity than about the Impact of Diversity.
The organization has made space for people who are different but no space for their different ideas. Helping Rebels be more effective at work is in fact a diversity initiative. And increasing the Impact of Diversity on an organization is in fact a Rebel initiative.
If we made more things would we be happier?
In my research this summer professional people talked of how miserable they are at work, working harder than ever but not seeming to get anywhere. With no markers to show progress or few ways to show “completed” projects they feel demoralized, tired and uninspired at the very time we need more creative ways forward.
Is this why more people are painting, making videos, self-publishing, designing jewelry, refinishing old furniture, restoring cars, rebuilding playgrounds, staging community theater, using Pinterest, gardening, taking on home improvement projects themselves? The feeling of starting something and then having something to show for our work can be so fulfilling.
I found myself recently ogling sewing machines, longing for my teenage days when I would save up money to buy a great Vogue pattern, beautiful fabric and special funky buttons, and then sew, sew, sew, creating something uniquely mine. When I put on that new dress it was a sense of accomplishment, creativity.
I felt the same way when I started writing articles for the local newspaper when I was a teenager. I loved the making of an article — the research, the interviews, the writing, the editing — and then seeing the final finished product in my hands.
Psychology research has found that using our hands to make things decreases stress and relieves anxiety. It has also found that “purposeful creative or practical endeavors” leads to joyful, creative thought.
“When you make something you feel productive, but the engagement and exploration involved in the doing can move your mind and elevate your mood,” explains Dr. Carrie Barron in a Psychology Today article, “Creativity, Happiness and Your Own Two Hands.”
I suppose more of us could make things in our free time, something I’m going to try to do.
As for work, I feel that we have to work harder at giving people a sense of accomplishment. Does anyone really have an inkling of “joyful” accomplishment during annual performance reviews, the time when we’re supposed to be able to review accomplishment and plan what’s next? Nope.
Nor do most have any way of feeling like they’re making progress. Knowledge workers especially face unending tasks towards elusive fuzzy goals. We have big visuals to show how much has been raised to reach the United Way goal, but no way to see how our team or organization is progressing.
Setting the right goals and ways to measure progress is difficult. This is why so few exist. It takes smart, committed leaders to set those and keep people focused on them. The focus part is most important. Too often our organizational plans are long, long lists of unending priorities. Employees feel like rats on a treadmill, going faster and faster and not making progress.
Let’s try. I think it might be easier than sewing.
Thanks to Michael H. Samuelson, author and founding CEO of The Health & Wellness Institute, for allowing us to share his 5th observation from his eBook, ” Wellness in the Workplace 2.0: 10 Key Observations from 35 Years in the Field.” His current title is one we love, “Chief Irritant.”
Let’s be honest. It’s much easier—and certainly safer—to sit back, complain, and wait for others to take action than it is to do something. That is, of course, unless you have passion, commitment, laser determination and God on your side.
Well, actually, skip that last one. She’ is on everyone’s side. At least that’s the pitch that supports the military-industrial complex (we should have listened to Ike) and looks nice on all of the banners.
Let’s just stick with passion, commitment and laser determination. When these three driving forces are present you can’t sit still, you can’t wait for someone else, and you can’t shut up. You stir and spit, shout and stomp your feet. You seize the torch that has been passed to you and your generation. You are Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. You take the crown out of the Pope’s hands and you crown yourself. Time is fleeting, daylight is burning, there are causes to advance and worlds to conquer!
“Emperor” too much? Okay. How about CI? Chief Irritant. You are the sand that produces the nacre that builds the pearl. So, let someone else sit back, complain, and wait for others to take action…just below the surface there are pearls in-waiting and you are the irritant that makes it all happen.
Let the spitting begin! Caution:
Sophocles was right, “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news.” As I have stated before, there are times when the boon, the prize, the newly found wisdom you bring to “fix things” is rejected. No matter the treasure, it is still disruptive in a world that knows not, or little, of its existence or value. What you may view as “The Answer” may well be viewed by others — particularly those in control — as the newest problem (read: YOU) to be dealt with, swiftly.
It’s no fun being spat upon. Trust me, on this one. I’ve been there. I’ve stimulated copious amount of spray, toweled off, and lived to irritate again. Being a CI is not always an easy ride but I like to modestly think—modestly—that along with picking up a few dents in my armor, I’ve also triggered the formation of a few pearls here and there…
1. Fasten Your Armor (you’re going to need it)
2. Pursue Your Need for Popularity Elsewhere
3. If You’re Not the Boss, Find a Champion in the “C” Suite
4. Practice “No-Oblique-Speak”
5. Compromise on Tactics…Not Ethics or Integrity
6. Irritate Without Judgment or Arrogance
7. Beware the Ides of March (et tu ______ )
8. Have a “No Jerks Allowed” Rule…Embrace the Spirituality of Imperfection
9. If you think everyone around you is a jerk…Look in the Mirror
10. Repeat after me, “Spit is Good”
Three overwhelming reasons. Restlessness, loneliness, and self-doubt.
We’re a restless bunch, always seeing new ways to do things better, easier, faster, better. Yes, I say better twice because we’re wired to keep raising the bar on excellence. Needless to say our ideas and relentless energy often exhaust or threaten our colleagues and bosses. So people often keep us at arm’s length, even those who appreciate the value we bring. This can feel lonely and lead to self-doubt, “Why aren’t they moving now on this idea? Am I off base? Am I not communicating the value well enough? Is it me or is it the idea? Why can’t I just slow down and take it more slowly like everyone else? Do I belong in this organization?”
Rebels have the courage to name the elephants in the room, see new ways to solve problems, bring outside ideas into the organization, and be the first to try new approaches. My research has found that rebels call out problems others are afraid to (92%) and challenge assumptions and sacred cow practices (92%), both of which are essential to real innovation, but often shunned in organizations.
The other overlooked value rebels bring is devotion to duty. Rebels care more about their organizations than most people. That’s why we ask the difficult questions that most people feel more comfortable avoiding, and risk being snubbed for suggesting unpopular ideas. We want our organizations to be the very best and we believe that our colleagues and we have what it takes to achieve more than our competitors.
(see the following chart for more)
We tend to trigger three threats that are wired into every person’s pre-frontal cortex, including those of our bosses. Our ideas often threaten managers’ sense of status, certainty and autonomy.
An overwhelming number of managers believe that they are supposed to create the strategy and have the answers — and employees are meant to execute on those ideas. Not question them. I’m the boss. I’ve got the senior vice president title. Hence, I know more and you should respect me for it. It sounds silly in this day and age of empowerment and collaboration, but protecting our status can lead all of us to act in illogical ways.
We humans are also wired to crave certainty. So when we rebels present innovative ideas that have no best practice precedents or haven’t been Six Sigma’d we trigger fears about certainty. Managers worry, “How will we know this will work? What if we make a mistake?” You get the picture.
The last threat is autonomy. Our managers like doing things their way. To suggest something different is to violate their sense of control and autonomy over what they know and like.
Missed opportunities, a complacent corporate culture, and a talent deficit.
Rebel thinkers see risks and opportunities earlier than most people. This is a tremendously valuable competence in age of such rapid change and smaller windows to seize and capitalize on opportunities. One way to look at rebels is as your “intrapreneurs” bringing entrepreneurial thinking, speed, and competitive instincts inside the organization. They spot ideas and see ways to make them real.
The other consequences are that shutting out rebel thinking sends a signal to the organization that creativity, diversity of thinking and change are not welcome. When that happens, your best talent usually leaves, and the culture becomes complacent. Not rocking the boat. Accepting good enough as good enough. In today’s hyper competitive world, few organizations can survive with a “good enough” approach.
Rebels are not motivated by formal recognition or financial incentives, nor are they “troublemakers.” They’re self-motivated to want to make a difference to their organization and to solve things that are not working as well as they could. My research found that just 27% want formal recognition. What they do want is to be asked their opinions more often and be invited to work on teams to solve specific issues. They don’t want to just talk about ideas, opportunities and problems, the want to make things happen.
The second surprising thing is how many closeted rebel thinkers there are in companies. People are yearning to do more – and they know more about what to do than most executive teams realize.
“Lois, I need to tell you something,” she whispered nervously as I walked into the ladies room. Then she quickly searched the stalls to make no one from her management team was there.
“I know why the workshop isn’t working,” she said with conviction.
Now I was on high alert, having walked into the bathroom frustrated and discouraged about the leadership workshop I was leading. The topic was on how to lead meetings so that healthy conversations and differing points of views could be aired to arrive at better decisions. But the energy in the workshop was low and the engagement almost non-existent. Was it the material? Was I having an off day? Do these people not have meetings? Could I turn this around after the break or should I just end it and put all of us out of our misery?
“It’s trust,” she whispered. “I’m fairly new here and can see the problem. But no one sees it because they confuse friendliness with trust. I have to go. Please, never, ever tell anyone I told you this.”
Yowza. Having worked with this client before I never would have thought that trust was an issue.
After the break I started the session with “organizational silence” research from NYU Professor Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison. (Here’s a great article by Professor Morrison; the chart in this post is from her as well.)
“Perhaps what’s really at play here is nothing about how to lead meetings. It’s about your organization. Meetings simply mirror the culture. In most organizations silence is pervasive because leaders are afraid of negative feedback and harbor beliefs that they know more than the rank and file, and that employees can’t be totally trusted.
“Moreover,” I continued, “We leaders are often trying to protect our status and sense of certainty. People speaking up shake up our status and we often inadvertently shut them down. If not in words, then in our body language.”
Then one brave young man raised his hand. “Yes, it feels kind of unsafe to say anything at our meetings. I don’t get the sense that people really want to hear my point of view.”
Then people started talking. After two and a half hours we were having the real conversation.
How often do we all silence others because of our fears and beliefs? What harm does that do to our companies?
“A troubling aspect of the dynamics that create and maintain silence is that they are hidden from view and often unrecognized” says Professor Morrison. “Management may see that employees are not engaged, but may assume that it is because they are self-interested or not motivated.”
I’m still reflecting on the workshop to understand the real issues. I have come to one important realization: these executives may have taken away nothing about leading meetings that matter, and it doesn’t matter. What they did come away with is a recognition of that organizational silence exists in their company and it’s not a good thing.
How to break the silence? Professor Morrison offers these suggestions:
There is no easy way to create safe corporate cultures and inviting and accepting differing points of view. I believe it’s a practice. Like practicing your golf swing, tennis serves, meditation, drawing and patience.
We’re never done. We can only be aware that we need to be aware.
What are the management secrets of successful CEOs? Geoffrey James interviewed the best of the best and found they share eight core beliefs. The full article is over at Inc Magazine. Here are the eight beliefs:
I like all these points, but #3, 4, 5 are my personal favorites. Yours?
Last week I flipped through the University of New Hampshire alumni magazine when it came in the mail, scanning my class notes to see who died, re-married, got an interesting new job. Another page caught my eye. “Being Disruptive — in a Good Way” by UNH president Mark Huddleston.
Mark explained that he had heard Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, speak at “The Future of Public Universities” conference — and that speech “wowed” him, and inspired him to begin creating a disruptive new educational model for UNH. A model that would help more students learn — for less.
What if we allowed online instruction to provide, where appropriate, the foundational knowledge, and directed students’ time on campus toward learning activities that maximize the benefits of these mentor relationships?
As online instruction improves, might we not devote more class time to teaching methods that take real advantage of students’ time together, such as team projects, discussions and critiques?
The article went on to talk about UNH’s new eUNH initiative to identify ways to use online learning to improve teaching and help students progress faster.
Aside from being intrigued with disruptive models, here’s what I liked about Mark’s article. It mobilized me to want to write a check to support the university.
Few of us want to work for — or financially support — organizations that are plodding along, doing the same things well. We want to be inspired by leaders and organizations that create new ways to support visions we care about. And who have the courage, leadership skills and discipline to move forward despite often formidable opposition.
(Sadly, last April the New Hampshire chapter of the union American Association of University Professors gave a 129 to 72 “no confidence” vote in his leadership. The change involved in disruptive innovation inevitably threatens some who would like things to continue as they have been.)
Now to write that check…
One factor distinguishes corporate cultures where creativity, trust, progress and and expedient problem solving abound. It’s safe to think differently, voice ideas that challenge the status quo, bring up the elephants hanging around the conference rooms.
If the environment doesn’t feel safe to employees, no amount of team-building exercises, awards for creativity, financial incentives for “employee suggestions,” or expensive organizational culture and/or innovation consultants will make a difference.
As humans our brains are wired to perceive threats faster than our logical minds work. When we perceive these threats we retreat, just as we would run if someone were physically threatening us. (For more on this topic, check out David Rock’s excellent book “Your Brain At Work.“)
People are afraid to speak up at work. They’re afraid they’ll sound dumb, make someone upset, get in trouble with their boss, maybe even get fired. This fear not only stymies good ideas it can cause tragedy.
The story of NASA’s Challenger space shuttle is legendary. People were afraid to speak the truth. And those brave engineers who did were eventually over-ruled by senior executives whose emotions were tied up around fears about “looking bad.” There were no ill intentions on anyone’s part. But clearly people didn’t feel safe dissenting forcefully enough to stop the shuttle, and the leaders were listening to logic and not hearing in-between the lines. They didn’t sense the engineers’ fears and concerns. Listening to someone’s words but not the feelings expressed in those words is half-listening.
The challenge — dare I say leadership 101 requirement — is for leaders is to create the conditions for safety, model that behavior, and require all leaders to do so as well. Easier said than done. We’ll dive into this in more detail in future posts, but here are 11 pragmatic ways to create safety in everyday work meetings and conversations.
I dare you to watch this TED Talk by psychologist Shawn Achor and not see ways to change your corporate culture to be much more positive, open to ideas, optimistic and successful.
In it Shawn shares five simple ways that his team has successfully helped trained people in companies to rewire their brains to be more optimistic and successful: gratitudes, journaling, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness. All are fairly easy to do and cost little.
The three I find most useful:
Enjoy. On top of being so smart, Shawn is a great presenter.
More creative people is the largest factor in spurring innovation, according to this insightful GE Innovation Barometer 2012 infographic. Play with the chart and see what most spurs innovation in different global regions and countries. Yup. Creative people is almost twice as more important than any other dimension.
Where do you find more creative people to help your company grow? You most likely have the people, but you probably need to adjust your corporate culture and processes to allow them to be much more creative. Some ideas to consider. None require big budgets, just slightly different ways to work.
There’s much more to share. But for now know that you have incredible potential in your organization. I see untapped magic and talent all the time. People are waiting to be invited to do more in more new ways. As leaders, help your repressed creative souls break free. It’s the only way to innovate all the time, in small ways and big.
What one thing could you do next week to make your organization a more welcoming creative place?
Usually they are so damn angry with the employee that they botch their technique.
They are irrationally rough, their aim is imprecise and messy, and they end up running over the body with such force that it causes more damage to the employee than they intended. But it does seem a relief to have gotten rid of that problem.
Few think about an important follow-through skill: contact with the other employees still on the bus. Just as a baseball pitcher throws a pitch and then needs to be prepared to field the hit, you can’t just throw someone under the bus. You need to be ready for what comes next.
Alas, most get sloppy here. Despite carefully throwing someone under the bus at discrete places or times, or telling employees that the person asked to get off the bus or jumped out of the bus, annoying glitches happen.
Employees on the bus are shaken up when the bus unexpectedly hits and runs over something strange, like their colleague. They get scared and distracted from work; many update their resumes.
Then they see their ex-colleague outside of work, bruised, angry and victimized, stumbling around in disbelief. The water cooler gossip goes wild, people wonder aloud why bosses throw people under the bus, and they secretly fear it could happen to them.
What a mess. Not even HR does a good job cleaning it up. For being so precise with financial spreadsheets and quality standards, why can’t managers be better at throwing employees under the bus?
First, let’s review reasons why they throw employees under the bus:
1. They are irate that the employees questioned their decisions in a public forum. How dare they! Being humiliated by that subordinate? I’m in charge, goddammit.
2. The employee has been meeting with people in the company to stir up ideas and support around an area that is not one of your five key strategic imperatives. Who gave them permission to do that? Why do they think they are entitled to be creating new strategies outside the standard chain of command? Bet their parents coddled them. Probably were on those sports teams where every kid gets a trophy.
3. Fairly new to the company, the employee just doesn’t get how things work. They seem to miss all the obvious social signals and are getting on people’s nerves. Can’t they see that they’re suppose to informally socialize new ideas before bringing them up in monthly staff meetings? What’s with the talk, talk, talk with the junior people? And strolling into the office at 9:30? Geez. Do I have to explain how everything works around here?
4. They are upsetting your boss and to save face with the big cheese, you need to act decisively and swiftly to eliminate the problem and calm your boss down. Like having an odd-looking mole removed from your face before it develops into full-blown skin cancer. I’m not going to jeopardize my career over someone making waves. She did bring some fresh thinking and energy we could sorely use around here, but after finally making it to senior vice president I’m not going to jeopardize my career.
Those in category #4 are the sloppiest at throwing people under the bus, yet seem to do it more often, too. When insecurities twist a person in knots, they get reckless and irrational. Despite throwing more people under the bus than most managers, they really make a mess of it. Insecurity is a killer.
So how to improve your skills in throwing someone under the bus?
Well, before even getting to those skills I’d suggest that first you might want to consider a refresher course in bus driving.
If you get better at focusing on your destination and getting the right people on your bus, you might not have to throw many off the bus. The focus will also help avoid distractions when employees on the bus get rowdy or restless, or someone starts hogging everyone’s attention even when you’ve told him to stay in his seat.
The refresher course will remind you to pay attention when employees on the bus yell at you from the back of the bus. They probably aren’t criticizing your driving. It may be that they see a giant pothole ahead, or know a great short cut, or even want to drive for a while so you can get some rest for what you all know is a challenging journey.
And if your boss calls demanding an explanation about why you’re taking a different route than planned, drivers ed will teach you to stay calm and explain to you boss that several employees know this territory well and saw a better way to get to the destination. Sure he may fume and make threats. But your employees on the bus are with you, ready to fix the flats, pump gas in the rain, figure out ways around detours.
Who is going to go the extra mile for you? Them, or the boss?
NOTE: Please see part two of this post: what to do if you have been thrown under the bus at work. It has some pragmatic ideas on how to recover.