Boss-bashing is a fun activity, and one that many of us indulge in when we run out of interesting topics of conversation. Of course, bad bosses do all they can to become the butt of bad jokes. Having become a ‘boss’ myself, I am wary of stepping on the management minefields that trigger off the ‘bad boss’ tag. Of course, even in a small organisation like mine, management issues do crop up and as a boss, my efforts are to resolve it keeping my employees’ morale as well as the organisation’s good in mind.
Chanced upon an HBR post by Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, today. It had me thinking: we rubbish our bad bosses all the time but do we really take the time to praise our good bosses? Yes, we put what we have learned from our good bosses to use nearly every day (just as we avoid bad-boss traps) but have we ever really let the world know how good they were? Not enough, I think. Taking inspiration from Sutton’s post, I’m just going to mark my gratitude to a boss and two colleagues who were not technically my bosses, but definitely senior to me in experience and wisdom and guided me a whole lot.
First up, of course, is V S Jayaschandran, now Senior Editor of The Week, who taught me the nuances of editing. With a sharp eye for errors and caustic wit reserved for those who erred, he made sure the articles we edited were perfect in tone, tense and turn of phrase. He helped me see the joy in turning unreadable copy into a crisp reader-friendly story. And yes, you had to double-check your facts before handing over your copy to Jayasch; there was no two ways about that! It was always a moment of private celebration when Jayasch returned my copy almost-intact. He was also a boss we could have illuminating conversations with as we all slogged into the wee hours of the night for our magazine’s pages to be sent to print.Jayasch now pens a column, Wicked Word, in The Week and as you can see, he does have quite a way with words.
Then there’s Jacob K J, who now runs Independent Media. Though we only worked together a short while, Jacob made a deep impact on me and to this day, he is the first person I call when I need advice, professional and sometimes, personal. The most important thing I learned from Jacob is perhaps, being passionate about your work and sharing that passion with others. Looking for innovative ways to do things is Jacob’s hallmark as is a penchant for inspiring people to give their best. Just a couple of weeks back, he explained to me how it wasn’t just enough to employ people but also to motivate them and nurture their strengths.
And then there’s dear Sam. Samuel Abraham, now Senior Assistant Editor at Frontline, is one of my favourite people for more reasons than one. He’s one of that rare breed of men who are a perfect mix of sensitivity and intelligence, charm and empathy. Sam taught me to value my colleagues as human beings. A firm believer in the power of relationships, Sam goes the extra mile to bring cheer to people’s lives. Of course, that also meant we all took our burdens to him. But Sam also has a touch of the philosopher in him; so our burdens seem vastly reduced after chatting with him.
Some day, I hope to be a perfect boss too. Which means taking all that I have learned from the people who taught me and using that collective experience to temper my natural impatience and impulsiveness… I’m sure I can hear my friends and colleagues at DropCap cheer to that!