Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Poor Indian Bosses !

There are many humorous writings and case studies about bosses. Mostly the management students and those connected with the corporate work culture are familiar with such stories.

In the management education parlour, there is a study on ' how to manage your boss' ! Corporate management training institutes often give much importance in teaching their young executives about the importance of 'managing' their bosses.

Although most of the cases relating to bosses are universal in nature, there are certain things which to some extent could be specially applicable to Indian bosses. Because most of the Indian bosses are a bit different from their foreign counter parts. By foreign, I meant those belonging to the countries which have surpassed the colonial culture !

It is now a generally accepted principle of the corporate world that the ability to manage one's boss is one of the most desirable qualities needed to succeed in career. Perhaps more desirable than knowledge and competence to do his or her work !

Now, those who are not connected with the corporate culture might genuinely ask this question. If these bosses are such a difficult management issue, why at all there should be bosses ?

Poor ignorant chaps. They simply cannot understand all these complicated management systems of modern world. There cannot be any corporate systems without bosses. Bosses are inseparable necessities in corporate world. There cannot be any management without bosses!

In olden times, the bosses used to be very powerful fellows. They were capable of hiring and firing. In modern world too, there are bosses who exercise that prerogative, but not many.

In the corporate world, one interesting thing is the existence of the hierarchy of bosses. These bosses are also called the executives or officers or managers. Every one is a boss and subordinate at the same time.

Those inducted into a corporate organization soon become very conscious about their status as a boss of some standing in the society, even though their standing in their organization is of no consequence to the society at large. This is one trait which is specially applicable to the Indian bosses. After getting into a corporate work culture, perhaps for the purpose of a simple livelihood initially, the meaning of work soon transcends the barriers of the vocation and becomes much more than that for the individual, if the individual is inducted to the organization as a boss at some level.

Indians who happen to do some job in any organization in the capacity as a boss soon begin to develop a peculiar bossy culture and pseudo personality. The more they are vested with 'bossy powers' the more their likelihood of developing an artificial personality.

For example, police officers are vested with more such arbitrary powers. So those bosses of the police are likely to be a different person even at their homes !

The more bossy you are the more you are supposed to be aloof from other individuals. That is what the Indian bosses somehow have learnt from their past ! Their 'power' has to be judged from their faces and attitudes that they are likely to show to those who are their subordinates or equivalent in their assessment. I think there could be other reasons also for this. Some of the bosses who are nearer to still superior powers are some what afraid of their rather unstable position. The more 'up' you are on the ladder, the more susceptible you to a 'fall'. So they prefer to avoid any kind of such situations that could possibly cause a fall. So their anxiety of their positional situation makes them to show off a grim face always ! Yet another reason could be that they begin to look upon every one around as an 'opportunity seeker' just as they themselves ! They want to repel such persons ! Whatever be the reasons, the boss who is much up in the organizational ladder soon loses the pleasant face and becomes a tense, unapproachable person. This usually makes the subordinates secretly call this boss a moron.

The junior bosses will aspire to become senior bosses by promotions, which is the usual corporate gimmick to keep these fellows motivated to cling to their corporate work zone. Promotions means a different designation of their job title, some rise in the pay package and more importantly other things which in the corporate culture are known by the term 'perks'. These perks could be a company car, a different type of chair to sit, some cosmetic changes in the cabin to sit, etc, etc. Though they are not of much consequence to the life of the individual in general, the cultural transformation has made the individual 'die' for these small things if denied at the 'desired' time.

The ambition of all persons who happen to be a part of this corporate culture is to 'rise' to the higher levels of bossism in the organization and if most importantly to the highest boss post during the career span of the individual.

With every rise in the boss ladder, the individual assumes more 'gravity' of bossism and most likely get himself or herself aloof from the rest of the world. The chief boss becoming the least accessible to others! Especially the Indian chief boss soon becomes some thing like the Indian idol of the Deity in the temples. They become objects of worship by the lesser mortals and lesser bosses ! They 'enjoy' the power of determining the 'fate' of those below them. The fate mostly concerning the promotions and positioning of the lesser bosses !

The second line bosses who are waiting to become the chief boss keep waiting for the chief boss to retire or die anxiously. They are the ones who pamper the 'outgoing' chief with praises and hymns not only in the office but even beyond that on a 7x24 basis. Their sycophantic flattery soon transforms the boss who happen to occupy the chief boss' chair to an altogether different person, perhaps not belonging to the mortal race, but to the order of the gods.

Unlike the political scene, the corporate world has evolved a rule by which the employees are to retire after attaining some age regardless of they being a boss or not.

So the chief boss in the corporate world, if he or she has come up to that position by the so called career growth, has to retire or superannuate after some time after reaching that position. Perhaps at an age of say 60 that is applicable in India for most instances.

The date of retirement is the most 'painful' day for most Indian bosses, especially if they happen to be the chief bosses. All those lesser mortals and lesser bosses who kept singing songs of praises and ultra obedient manners for a few months previously soon would show a 'nasty' or unfriendly face henceforth.

They soon are likely to feel like 'fish out of water'. All of a sudden the friendly world around them has turned out to be either strange or hostile !

The situation at home also would not be much different. They soon would find even the family members too not showing the reverence that they used to show when they occupied the chair of the chief boss or chief executive !

I remember the pathetic situations in which some of these kind of people whom I personally had known faced post their retirements. One was a very senior officer of the organization where I joined as a junior boss. At the time when I knew him, he was in some middle management position and showed enough bossy attitudes commensurate with that position. Junior bosses like me used to be 'scared' of him ! There was no question of talking to such a person as a normal human being !

In some years time this person rose to the chief boss position and I rose to a position that he held years before when I joined the organization. He was the chief of nearly 3000 odd lesser order bosses all scared of the chief.

Later this chief retired and settled in his own home which was near to the our residences. He used to go for evening and morning walks in the streets. Now, all those who used to bow to him with reverence earlier showed no regard to him and behaved as if they were total strangers. Since he was a super boss he never took the efforts of having personal friendship or fellowship with any of these hundreds of others who lived around him.

Soon people forgot about him, though he was living in the same locality.

In a few years time, I became the elected head of a professional body of engineers of that city. This body used to honour one or two veterans every year and I was entrusted to nominate and invite a person to be awarded that year. Since the chief boss was a prominent engineer of yester years, I decided to nominate him and I personally went to his house to invite him formally to receive our award.

Nearly a decade had gone after he had relinquished his powerful post when I met him. He was no more the 'lion' of a person ! We both talked for quite some time in the most cordial and affectionate manner. And when I communicated our decision to award him that year, he became too emotional and began to cry loudly holding my arms! That was the tears of sorrow of being in isolation in a populated place that was his home for many decades !

This is just one such example I have narrated. But it is a typical situation many Indian bosses might face when out of power and position later in their retired life !

I keep seeing the next generations of bosses who follow the same path.

I do not know about the bosses in other countries. My readers can enlighten me and other readers through their comments.

One thing is sure. Doing the job of the boss is a difficult one. Those who are in it need to be extremely careful in not landing into a situation of painful isolation in the years ahead.

For that they have to consciously make efforts to unlearn the culture of bossism that keep building up in their nerves and brains during the long years of their work for a livelihood as a boss!

I earnestly hope the Indian Society to have a different breed of bosses in the times to come !

There are simple ways to become good bosses and effective leaders of the corporate world. Many of these things are routinely taught by the management institutes. But unfortunately, all bosses do not get the chance to get exposed to such management trainings. Some purposefully avoid such opportunities due to their bossy egos. For some others, such exposures do not make any impact again due such a mental state.

But more than these stereotyped executive development programmes there are many simple natural ways by which a boss who is 'up in the ladder' can come back to a normal state of mind.

I think I would address those in some other blogs.

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