Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Boss Day

This past Tuesday October 16th, was National Boss Day.  The "holiday" was created in 1958 by Patricia Bays Haroski , then an employee at State Farm Insurance.  It is a day for employees to commend their bosses on their great leadership.  However, as recent studies show, although most employees have a lot to say to their superiors, none of those things involve the word thanks.

There is no such thing as a perfect employee and thus no such thing as a perfect boss.  Yet, let’s face it; as far as leadership goes many bosses leave much to be desired.  An article written by Ruth Mantell for outlines five types of bad bosses.  From the boss that has no personal life, to the one with poor communication skills, to the micro manager and the one who avoids risks at all costs to finally, the one who is an emotional wreck-  chances are we have all had one or more of these bosses before.

So what exactly is the problem?  Why are so many of our bosses lacking?  Experts offer several reasons.  Mantell, for example, sites specific organizational issues such as budget cuts that have resulted in decreased management training.  In addition, she discusses the shift to “flat” organizations in which the lines that separate managers and subordinates have become less clear.

Others focus on the traits of the individuals themselves.  An article written by Eric Jaffe for Psychology Today (The Reasons Your Boss Sucks), sites research indicating that some bosses become bullies due to a mix of power and self-perceived feelings of incompetence.  Many  people with organizational power, i.e bosses, supervisors, managers etc., put pressure on themselves to be competent yet lack self confidence and thus become defensive when their own performance is not up to par.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey takes a different approach by distinguishing between leadership and management.  As per Covey, one cannot be a good manager without being a good leader.   Whereas management is about accomplishing things, leadership poses the question:  “What are the things I want to accomplish?”.   In other words, a manager focuses on control, efficiency and rules but a leader focuses on direction and purpose.   Management is about climbing the ladder of success- leadership makes sure that that ladder is leaned in the right place.  Thus for a boss to be successful, leadership must come first, management second.

Mantell sites a poll which states that more than six out of 10 employees would be happier at work if they had a better boss.  That is more employees than those who would be happier with a pay raise (four out of 10).  Yet as per Covey, it takes a lot of skill to be a boss- and even more so to be a good boss.   So for all the good bosses out there Happy belated boss day!  For the bad ones, well, there's always room for improvement.

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