Once upon a time there was a wonderful western movie made by the name of “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. It is very easy to understand what is “good”, but the difference between “bad” and “ugly” when used in reference to a type of human being becomes difficult to understand. But the meanings of these words were wonderfully portrayed by the three characters in the film so much so that anyone who saw the movie came out with a clear understanding of the definitions of these three words.
Here I am not talking of that film but of three types of bosses in any organisation, the “Good, the Bad and the Indifferent”. Here too unless someone experiences these bosses in his or her career it would be very difficult for him or her to understand these types as there are no fixed characteristics to describe them. The meanings of these words to different people would be different depending on their own experiences. To some the meanings of these words may even be seen as a relative term and they may feel that it all depends on how good or bad or indifferent a subordinate is to his superior or that a boss may be good to one junior but bad to another and yet indifferent to another still and therefore these terms have no fixedness as qualifiers of persons working as bosses. In fact I strongly suspect that most successful people would probably say that all bosses are good, proving a hypothesis of mine that a truly successful person is one who can make his boss become a good one for him. In effect it means it is all within us to create what we want in life and that includes a good boss.
I share my ideas here of what a good, bad or an indifferent boss is. I will restrict myself to defining these words only and not lose myself in the quagmire of relativity as mentioned above. I will only try to give absolute definitions of these words as per my own understanding and welcome others to comment and share their ideas. Also let me make it clear beforehand that what a person is as a human being has no relevance to his role as a boss. A perfectly good, gentleman maybe a very bad boss, and so also a very nasty, bad person may prove to be a very good boss when it comes to work and work life. My definitions are in paragraphs as it is not easy to describe the meanings in one word but at the same time I will only highlight a few characteristics only and leave the ground open for discussions and comments, if any, from the visitors to the site.
The GOOD boss doesn’t think of himself as a boss, he leads, he guides, and he works with his subordinate as a team member and takes care of him like a parent. The person under a good boss learns from the qualities of his senior and develops into an able worker himself. It is always an exhilarating experience to work under such a boss, even if he may demand his pound of flesh in terms of hard work and loyalty. A GOOD boss would also care for his people and work caringly for their well-being. A GOOD boss would be one with whom one can share thoughts, argue without fear, exchange views, be sincere and not just be seen sincere. A junior would always look up towards the good boss and love him. The junior would always want to work under this boss but at the same time would grow out of the protective shade of this boss as this boss would develop him to take higher responsibilities. Unfortunately a GOOD boss may not be one who shines in his own life, for we do not have grace marks for being a GOOD boss.
The BAD boss is one who does not teach and yet wants results, who does not care for his subordinate and yet demands attention himself. He is one whose aim is to control his subordinate and forgets that he should rather concentrate on the work done by the subordinate and the results, he asks for filing of tour reports but not take actions on them, whose idea of team work is an evening out with his subordinate and not a day in with the team. He does not believe in freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom from bondage. His idea of a good subordinate is one who always says, “Yes”. He looks at work and work place like a personal fiefdom and is interested only about himself, does not know how to delegate and train and guide, does not have the capability to lead. A bad boss forgets that his subordinate is not a fool. A BAD boss is one whom one should pity for he is not worth any respect. Unfortunately it does not mean a BAD boss cannot rise in his own career, for going to the top doesn’t need pass marks in leadership.
But nothing beats an INDIFFERENT boss. A bad boss will be bad to you and so you know where you stand, but an INDIFFERENT boss will be unpredictable, you will always be in suspense. They are the majority in an organisation and are the greatest de-motivating influences, because they don’t do anything at all for a subordinate and his work. Though a bad boss may harm you more, you can still keep quiet, do what he wants and be controlled by him, don’t argue with him and pray that you get a good report but how do you tackle an INDIFFERENT boss? An INDIFFERENT boss is one who is not bothered about subordinates at all. An INDIFFERENT boss will not harm his junior nor will do any good for him, will not scold him nor appreciate him, not guide him nor ask his opinion. Even with a bad boss you can learn the job, but, yes, you have to do the work in his way. But under an INDIFFERENT boss, you will not be able to learn anything; he will be one who will only give lip service and always quote rules when it comes to doing something good for the junior. The INDIFFERENT boss will not want to make the work place a better place to work in, he will not know how to deliver group objectives. One should fear INDIFFERENT bosses more, I think, as they are more in numbers and affect the growth of persons in an organisation as they leave their juniors in a limbo.
We have all had our share of bosses, but have we thought of what type of bosses we are? In fact why do we want to be a boss at all and not be just a team member, with perhaps a little more knowledge than the junior, a will to help others and a desire to lead?