The Loathsome Boss

Totem Poles This article is about a common creature, The Boss, which can be found worldwide.  Most people have encountered one, if not many.  Recent research suggests that as many as most Americans have one.  This is most unfortunate, as they are a loathsome creature, and serve almost no purpose. While the Boss can be found in non-indiginous environments, such as at home and during recreation, it is most often found in its natural habitat, the workplace.

The workplace is an often misunderstood environment where the Myth (perpetuated by the Boss) exists that the function of the workplace is to trade one’s time for money with which to purchase the things one needs.

This could not possibly be further from the truth.

With a bit of thoughtful reflection, it becomes obvious quickly that the true purpose of the workplace is to provide a place where meaningful and purpose driven work can occur, where people can passionately create and contribute through individual and team effort towards a common goal, supporting each other and learning from failure as well as celebrating success.

The money (which is typically bountiful for all in this type of workplace) is a byproduct of the great work done.

This Myth (that we should trade our time for money) is a very important one to Bosses.  Without it, they lose literally the only card in their hand, the one perceived factor that results in employees giving up their power and their passion because they need the money that they trade their life for.

Without this Myth, there might be no reason to accept ill treatment from Bosses.  Without this Myth, we would create the environment we all dream to work in, and stop the competition, the ladder climbing, the blind ambition, the disloyalty, and the greed.  Without this Myth, we might not need Bosses.

Now, let us study this most loathsome of creatures, the Boss.

The Boss doesn’t understand people, and is therefore scared of them. It instead spends all its time with its four friends, charts, numbers, rules, and policies. The Boss’s favorite words are always, never, no, and can’t.

The Boss views the world in black and white, good guys and bad guys, and is forever fearful of new and different things.  The Boss is pessimistic and cannot tolerate ideas that are not its own.  The Boss cannot bear to be questioned, and refuses to explain the reasons for its actions.

The Boss tells you what to do and who to be.  The Boss is most concerned with what you can do so the Boss doesn’t have to.

The boss knows and draws attention to its place on the totem pole, so markedly above your own. It seeks out opportunities to remind you of the difference in your positions, and to emphasize your inferiority.

The Boss relishes the idea of others bending to its will.  There is little that pleases a Boss more than seeing others do what it has commanded, regardless of the rationality of the task.  In many cases, the Boss takes greater pleasure in assigning obviously meaningless work, for compliance with these senseless compulsions signify total control over another person.

The Boss’s ambition pushes it ever higher, for the mere idea of power and position are naturally intoxicating to the Boss.  Many times, it seems (and quite correctly so) that the Boss would do anything for more power.

The Boss has one value, and that is comparison. The Boss is as committed to worshiping its masters as it is to demoralizing its subordinates. Every being is categorized in relation to the boss, either as a superior or an inferior. There can be no equals, for equals are threats. The Boss is uninterested in your ideas, innovations, or original thoughts.

The Boss sees you as a robot. A mindless, thoughtless being whose only purpose is to follow its rules and accomplish the tasks it gives you.

The symptoms of working for a Boss are varying and can be severe.  Lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, loss of interest and passion, emulation of poor behavior, and general demoralization are common.

Fear not, good people.

The Boss does have a natural enemy in the wild.

The illustrious Leader.

The Leader is at home in all environments.  It is frequently found at home as well as at work, and can appear abroad as well as locally.

The Leader is a connoisseur of people.  It cares for them and is interested in who they are and where they come from.

The Leader is by far more interested in the well being of people than in adherence to rules or policy, and the Leader cannot be compelled to make decisions that would be detrimental to people for the sake of an intangible number.

The Leader’s favorite words are sometimes, maybe, why, and possibility.  The Leader recognizes the dynamic and fluid nature of true accomplishment, and allows people and teams to work within loose guidelines.  The Leader is more interested in desired outcomes than in specific methods.

The Leader knows that it doesn’t know everything, and is happy to accept reasonable questioning and exploration of ideas.  The Leader knows and shares the “Why” behind its actions and words.  The Leader believes in trying new things, even those that end in failure.

The Leader accepts individuals as they are, and works to capitalize on their strengths while ameliorating their weaknesses, either through complementation or development.

The Leader’s greatest concern is in its self-assigned duty to enable and support the people adopted into its care.  It is committed to running interference so that the people around it may be free to excel at their work.

A Leader has no interest in worshiping the totem pole.  In fact, Leaders knock down the totem pole and invite you to have a seat on it next to them.

The Leader knows that without its people, it has no purpose and cannot exist.  Leaders recognize that, while all people are different, they are worth the same, Leaders included.

The Leader does not want to tell you what to do.  The Leader wants to show you what to believe in so that you can decide what to do and how best to do it. For the Leader, there is nothing so grand as to watch someone succeed.  Watching its people overcome obstacles, create things, work together, and change the world is the paramount feeling for a Leader.

The Leader has no taste for control or power.  It desires only to serve, and wields any authority it may possess in order to do so.  Leaders delegate authority to allow their people to do what needs doing.

Leaders are, by nature, value and principle driven.  They subscribe to three chief principles, a hallmark of their culture.

Service
For Leaders, there are three facets to the principle of service.
Humility, for Leaders, means the recognition of equality with those around us.
Teamwork, the desire to work with others and see others succeed as part of a team.
Generosity, the sincere desire to selflessly give to others so that they may prosper.

Compassion
Sympathy is the ability to notice what another is feeling.
Empathy is the ability to feel what another is feeling.
Compassion is the ability to care what another is feeling.
Leaders are endowed with an extraordinary ability to care.  It is this caring which drives their commitment to service.

Integrity Leaders believe that Integrity comes in three flavors: Honesty, Ownership, Work Ethic.
Leaders are committed to the truth, not as a weapon, but as value.  They are  insistent upon honesty, yet kind in its use.
A Leader will always admit a mistake and take ownership of its own work.  It will never pass blame to another, while it is generous (see above) about sharing praise.
The Leader believes in quality, and is unafraid to expend its own effort to achieve it.

The results of working for a Leader can be astonishing.  A feeling of safety and value, trust, smiling, and mountains and mountains of meaningful work accomplished are all signs that you work for a Leader.

Of all the differences between the Boss and the Leader, the final one is perhaps the most dramatic.

Leaders believe that the single most impactful factor on the productivity, creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness of their people is their happiness.

Bosses don’t.

About Landon

I'm a small town, values-driven family man. I like to learn things, and I like to teach things. I like to read, cook, play music and play outdoors. I enjoy yoga, guns, music, tea, dancing, hiking, and enriching conversation. Professionally, I am a full-time Firefighter/Paramedic, adjunct college faculty, contract educator, dance studio owner, and freelance writer/speaker.
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