Home > Uncategorized > What kind of boss are you?

What kind of boss are you?

One of may favourite stories of a good boss is of when I started in my career.

A brand manager at a large MNC sent a 13 page hand written complaint to my super boss. He was a Vice President, in the days when the title meant you were number 2 in the organisation to The CEO. I was an Account Executive.

I know what some of the people I have since worked with would’ve done.

But this boss brought the sheaf to my table and said ‘I don’t believe any of this to be true. Can you please help me respond to this?’ and walked away.

Theory Y management in practise.

I have been blessed that through large parts of my career I’ve had such bosses. The fact that they were all at Ogilvy, probably also says a lot about its culture.

I have since then tried to practise this style as much as possible. No one comes to work with the intention of screwing up. But they do err.

Whether you decide to stuff them for it or offer a helping hand shapes not just your relationship with the person, but also what kind of leader they become.

The choice really is between Image and Image

Oft times this is supported by what people have read as behaviour of other ‘successful’ leaders.

Steve Jobs was, by all accounts, no easy person to work with. And he worked 7 days a week. He was rude. He was obnoxious. He was a genius.

I have worked with creative people in my previous jobs who were tough, arrogant, threw tantrums but were brilliant.

Poor managers, or leaders, selectively cherry pick the bad behaviour components, conveniently leaving out the genius elements.

Thus we are seeing the growing ‘bully’ bosses who play the player, and not the game. After all if it was good for Steve, it is good for them.

A junior team member is like a child in your family. She/ he learns from what they see as acceptable practise from their seniors and will take that with them everywhere they go.

So the next time you are faced with a challenging situation caused by your team members, pause and ask yourself : Will I use this opportunity to teach or will I teach him a lesson that will scare him for the rest of his life.

That will define whether you will be remembered as a boss they look up to and write about, or just another irritant in their professional journey. After all it’s an old adage, “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses’.


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  1. Vaishakhi
    June 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Harish! So true – these days Bosses can choose between being a leader or a manager! I’m glad Ogilvy taught us well.

  2. June 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    True – especially in a people biz like communication

  3. John Goodman
    June 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    For every Steve Jobs there are a million people who have no such talent and need to focus on being decent to their fellow human beings. It seems to me that Apple is disintegrating now the Emperor has gone.

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