Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Don't be the boss you've hated all your life

A natural corollary to the golden rule for human behaviour, ‘Do unto others as you would done unto yourself’, is ‘Don’t do unto others as you would not done unto yourself’. If all our leaders put this corollary to practice they would be entirely worthy of their exalted positions and this world be a much better place for their living in it.

Bosses of today sometime ago had their own bosses, or even now they have. So, like any other mortal they must have disliked and hated many of their boss’ acts of commission and omission. It could be hogging the credit for the junior’s commendable work – the extreme being – and I am not here just imagining things – the case of publishing their junior researcher’s work under their own name and winning Nobel Prize for that, blaming the junior for below-par performance though they themselves neither gave unambiguous instructions nor allowed any attempts to seek clarity, that they looked down upon the subordinates as members of some sub-human species, that they took the lion’s share of the bonus granted to the department, that they encouraged a coterie of yes-men around them, that they were not trustworthy and did not trust those not part of the coterie, that they gave themselves an exclusive right to speak to the press about the organisation’s achievements even if they had the special gift of putting their foot – sometimes both feet – in the mouth every time they opened it to speak.

Now that these people are bosses in their own right, all they have to do in relation to their juniors and subordinates is to remember what they hated in their boss’ behaviour and then not to behave like that. By becoming the negative of their boss’ negatives these thoughtful bosses would score high positive marks as effective leaders.

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