Tough shoes to wear…

Much has been written about ‘being the boss’. How to, what to, when to .. the list is endless. Wondering if that much has been written about ‘understanding the boss’; ‘a boss’s perspective’!!

So, let me trash some myths from a boss’s shoe- a shoe that I wear perhaps in terms of being the CEO of a company. So technically people think I am THE ultimate boss and I am not answerable to anyone!

Every employee is a boss! A healthy retention of good talent is a dream of a leader. It also helps in the balance sheet of the organization.

Every client is a boss. (I don’t have to elaborate on this!)

The board (however inactive it may seem), the investor (even if it is just oneself) is the real boss.

One’s conscience is the true boss- if the boss believes that she/ he will get sleep in the night only  if she/he is conscientious!

Yes, the final decision in most operations as well as several strategic moves, rests with the CEO. In such cases like mine, where an organization was founded on a vision that was born out of a personal experience, this becomes even more centralized- at least the ‘final’ decision. Yet, one can’t deny that the process of decision-making can be and must be made collaborative in a progressive organization. This is vital for the long-term health of the organization, to get multiple perspectives, to revisit the vision set and so on.

Many short-term decisions still rest with the boss. This is simply because the boss has a wider view of the direction of the organization. At such times, for a team that seeks “participatory management” the boss seems autocratic, too powerful to take the right decisions!

A conscientious boss attempts to explain the rationale behind decisions, especially one that brings major changes. But many a times the rationale cannot be conveyed organization-wide for two reasons. Confidentiality that becomes important from long-term growth & innovation point of view and maturity of the employees across  levels that is determined by one’s educational background, years of experience, exposure, attitude, empathy and most importantly trust in the top management!

(I am yet to understand the term ‘transparency’ in such contexts. Trying, still!)

Another myth is that the boss ‘enjoys’ better travel, accommodation and office ambience (leave alone the salary). In small/ medium organizations budgets are limited and leaves only the boss taking a flight while an employee below is made to take an uncomfortable bus (thanks to IRTC being always booked in full) to their destinations.  This, at times, leaves one with the perception that the boss enjoys benefits at the cost of the employees below!

To me this is less to do with hierarchy than to do with utilizing the time of the boss, giving him a peaceful travel to think through strategies and be better prepared for a high-stake meeting (assuming ‘flights’ offer peaceful travel!!). The bold assumption here is that the boss’s meeting are more high-stake and turn-around ones!

The most subtle and important of such distorted perceptions that leave a boss in not-so-good humour among the employees is the fact that the boss has the last say in meetings!! Why not and shouldn’t he/ she? The boss is the moderator, is the custodian of the vision (remember not the owner but the custodian!) has or should have a broad view across departments, across hierarchy and the future direction of the company. No one can see the impact of the decisions as well as the boss does. So, who should have the last say?! 

Not to undermine the intellect and diversity of the group in the meeting- the boss should ideally conduct and facilitate meetings in a way that everyone has a chance to speak, induce devil’s advocacy, do a loud analysis and ideally communicate this too! Yet, when many a times there is no consensus, when people stick to their point of view, when they fail to see another’s point, it becomes important for the boss to draw the curtains with a punch line of his/ her own! Rightfully so, to save the organization of a “meeting paralysis”.

Sadly, this is seen by the people-in-no-agreement as an autocratic style of the boss. The few, who may simply agree to disagree or are in true agreement with the boss, are seen in bad light as ‘yes-men’ of the boss. And the boss is seen in bad light too, as someone who likes yes-men around him/herself!!

The boss’s world is tough. More so if the boss believes in democracy! Democracy in an organization is not as simple as getting everyone to cast a vote! Democracy in its true spirit means much more and needs a very understanding, mature team of people who all see the long-term impact of steps, initiatives and decisions taken. This is not easy to achieve at a single point of time in an organization.

The boss’s world is tough. More so, if it is a woman. Despite all the respect that a woman gets, especially if she is perceived as ‘worthy’ to be the boss, she still belongs to the “more emotional gender”. And men and women colleagues like to believe that “she” may not be always right!  And when she is truly emotional by nature, there is this doubt of ‘logic’ missing in her decisions.

The boss’s world is tough. More so if she places love and care foremost in the business. “Love doesn’t work in commerce”; “Care leads to indifference”. Employees don’t take her seriously!

To fight this all, the boss’s clan needs to be talking more, writing more, communicating their perspectives better and with more clarity. Apart from running the business, that is!  🙂


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Siva on July 16, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Very well written. It is tough being a Boss and agree with your views.


  2. well written


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