Boss is not a vain fool – Oct 19 2010

There was a very interesting and a different type of letter I received than the ones I am used to receiving. In fact it almost looked like a response to my last article in my column ‘work behaviour’ on ‘preparedness for sudden opportunity’. But there was no reference to it and hence I believe that it was purely coincidental. A young professional, to be more precise a graduate trainee, was suddenly positioned to a level where he was to report directly to the president of the company. He was happy and satisfied with this bonus. He was able to make a good presentation of himself and was appreciated for the same as well. However he wanted further suggestions from me as to what ‘extra or what else I can do to win his heart. And I look forward to be in touch with him and I expect the increment in my salary’.

Here was a catch I thought. ‘Winning the heart’ of the boss and ‘expect the increment in my salary’ were two things uppermost in his mind and in fact  should not be so was my concern. If these two goals become the focus of this young man who is just beginning his career he will take a wrong step that will perhaps lead him no- where. The work/career goals should be entirely different according to me if you think seriously with a broader perspective towards your work and your life. Pleasing your boss and earning a few increments does not give you the ultimate position in life and nor the desired happiness. Maintaining good relations with your boss, understanding your boss, following his orders and being in his good books by delivering the goods is great but life does not end there. Material gains are important as we work for earning money and the comforts it buys but again material gains cannot be the sole purpose of working. There are studies to prove that just having material wealth does not give happiness otherwise the richest persons would be the happiest people on earth.

I am taking the young professional as a case in point- he may not be entirely oriented in this fashion. But a note of caution is important for other young professionals to understand the point. The point is that we observe that a majority of executives in any industry / organisation are doing just this- trying hard to please the boss and to gain a few more brownie points. Their entire focus is on flattery and self gain to the exclusion of the bigger goals. These unfortunate mortals may be unaware of what more they need in life! A vision, a mission, a philosophy, a set of principles, a set of values and beliefs may
sound like high ‘funda’ to them and not actually the fundamental things! I may be outdated today as I am brought up in the old school of thought but experience tells us that the basic truths do not change – they are like the absolutes. Today large majority of youth may believe that ‘opportunism’ is the best philosophy and being expedient is practical wisdom. They may think that pleasing the boss is a more beneficial than doing one’s job properly. They may think that the boss is more important than the organisation and its’ goals! They might focus on short term gains being oblivious to the long term aims.

A lot depends upon the maturity of the boss as well- a good competent boss looks for competent people and not sycophants. A capable boss appreciates  dedicated talent and creativity in people and not just job doers. A visionary leader craves for dynamic intelligent minds who can carry forward effectively the organisation as well as its’ goals. Sitting wisely at the top of the pyramid he can spot easily the shining gems from the stones. He is no fool with only vanity to guide him. He looks for age old virtues and dynamism in his people. If you have a boss who resembles this picture of mine he would not only be a task master but a difficult one to please. Then in that case you would be frustrated at all levels in your efforts at flattery and however hard you try to please him you will only have to turn around and say – ‘whatever you may do the boss is never happy’!

This brings us back to square one – what is more important – lasting values or values that last only one day!

Published in The Hitavada – Future work behaviour for 19 October 2010

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