13 January 2006

Mentors and morons

You hope for a mentor, but end up with an egocentric moron. Either way, you can safely assume your boss will take credit for your ideas and your work. It’s the law of the corporate world. Some bosses are so hopeless that you have no choice but to look for another job. Believe me, I’ve filled the boss’ shoes many times.

No matter how bad the boss, be loyal. Never complain about him or her to anyone. Never criticise what your boss does or says. On the contrary, make yourself valuable to your boss by offering good advice. Advice, which, if accepted as good, will be believed to be his or her own original idea, or thrown away, depending on the mood your boss is in.

Timing is important. You have to figure out when it’s appropriate to offer advice and when to keep your mouth shut. It’s a tightrope walk. Making your boss happy and ensuring you get to do things that allow you to stand out from your colleagues are keys to your success in the corporate world. If your advice is good, and your boss shines in front of his or her boss and in the crowd, you’ll get that promotion you were waiting for.

Bosses, including myself, are narcissists. They love only what they do. They love listening to their own words. The tragedy is, they want you around when they do all their talking. And, worse still, they expect you to provide lip service to their grandiose plans. At times, I used to be so full of myself that I used to force-feed my team with my ideas, discouraging others from contributing. In turn, I alienated many members of my team and destroyed several friendships.

Most bosses are insecure and suffer from low self-esteem. They are insanely controlling. Any independence on your part equals betrayal. The worst are crackpots. I once had a boss who was actually psychotic, terrorising the entire team for close to three years until a change in the top management of the firm unsettled him and he finally lost his job.

But, once in a while, you do get a boss who isn’t an idiot. A boss who inspires – giving you that much-needed energy to do more. A boss, who can be the mentor you were hoping for and from whom you can learn a lot. A boss, who improves your performance, and your character, as you work alongside him or her.

These bosses give you sound advice and act as a sounding board for your ideas and thoughts. They help you clarify your actions and decisions, about your career and in your personal life. They teach you, counsel you, even help you look for better jobs if they feel your career will benefit from it. They become your trusted friend and guide you to perform better – to the extent of even outshining themselves. And, we all need such inspiration from time to time.

1 comment:

pH said...

Interesting to read, specially now that it is appraisal time!

Think this reading will trigger a bout of introspection...