Future Work Behaviour – 04 Jan 2011

“One of the most critical achievements of my executive career is that my subordinates often treat me as their elder, someone from their family. Of course, we are a family – of five hundred plus persons here, but relationships are different. All are bound by a bond of togetherness”. This statement from Mohan, a young Vice President heading a division of a huge company, seems genuine. His happiness shows on his face as he talks fondly about his workplace. He says, he has been working hard for the past fifteen years to create such an atmosphere at the workplace. His motivation is simple: he wanted to set an example of being a truly good boss! Of course he has been betrayed by many whom he thought were loyal to the company but he waves it off without any bitterness.

When he was a young field staffer in another company, his boss behaved like a villain – all the time barking like a dog, growling, dashing memos to staff, cutting their wages if they made mistakes…. “Things were very bad out there. Everybody’s action was suspect. Every move was looked down upon. Any mistake and the boss would be all ready to attribute motives of corruption…! I hated that, and wanted to set an example of being a truly good boss,” said Mohan. The present company offered him an opportunity to head a section and since then he has marched ahead with his democratic ideas and never looked back. He is proud of the fact that he knows every employee by name and also knows the family as well! Clearly, Mohan’s career is headed towards being chosen as the biggest boss of the company in a few more years.

For company management, too, comparative results of both the divisions have posed a problem. This real-life story has a lesson for all young people who wish to rise on the professional ladder: Success comes from ability to build friendships, bonds of togetherness, and relationships that go beyond normal confines of workplace. Many young bosses tend to overact – they tend to become inhumanly demanding, unnecessarily strict, disciplinarians without cause. All these do not help in the long run. It reflects an attitude of disrespect for others and an old belief that basically men are lazy by nature and do not want to
work, so you have to whip them to work. But the other attitude that basically men enjoy work and if they are given the right atmosphere and responsibility their creativity will flourish. There is no doubt about the importance of discipline at workplace. The boss need not allow unnecessary late coming, or unnecessary leave-taking. He may not allow shouting and fighting and time pass frivolous activities. He may never allow any violation of dress code in office. Yet, he need  not be frigid while implementing the discipline. For, he must realise that there could be some genuine reasons, too, for a few digressions. In other words, the boss should have a human touch to his dealings with his people. For, they are HIS people, HIS own big family out in the workplace.

It is unfortunate that many/majority workplaces are replete with the STRICT bosses. It is also unfortunate that in most workplaces, liberal bosses are laughed at. Only a few managements realise the importance of delivering work internally with a smile. That is the trouble with the average Indian workplace. Because of this reality, sectional heads begin their careers with the mandate of being STRICT. Words such as ‘discipline’, ‘control’, ‘command’ seem to rule the roost without much reason. In such places, words like ‘willingness’, ‘volunteerism’ seem to be missing altogether. People like Mohan are found only in small numbers. That is another trouble with the average Indian workplace.

But the young executives need to understand the importance of the human face of management or leadership. They may imagine how difficult it could have been for the average Indians if Mahatma Gandhi did not have a ‘human’ style of leadership!

Published in The Hitavada – Future 04 January 2011

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