Remember the time when you were just out of college? The time when you got the first job? The boo-boodee-boo of the heart, the sparkle in the eyes, the I-will-take-on-the-world spirit, the spring in the walk -- as you stepped into the workplace? And remember how the boss or supervisor or senior shook your hands and welcomed you so warmly into the organization, introduced you to colleagues and showed you your seat? Life looked set to take off. The Boss looked like friend, philosopher, guide, mentor, God... all rolled into one.
If, after so many years at the grind, your opinion about this particular species still remains the same: well, you are one of those rare, fortunate breed that has hit the gold fault, God Bless You, you must have performed some very pious deeds in your previous incarnation. But if you are like most of us out here in the world, chances are that by the time you have spent a few years in as many companies and workplaces, the sheen and the polish would have eroded from the character who decides not only the workload, the nature of work, and the raise one can enjoy, and in most cases also whether one stays or one goes, but also one's peace of mind.
People have spent their entire lifetime studying the Boss tribe. Careers have been built, and lots of money has been made in writing books, availing of research grants, teaching the subject of leadership at management schools, giving presentations to CEOs at lecture circuits... all focusing on this curious specimen called the "boss" or the "leader".
Energy is expended in coming up with profound insights and anecdotes and high-falutin' words and interesting turns of phrases, with the objective of getting quoted around the world in prestigious journals and magazines of the kind that are found on the coffee table in the business-class cabins of executive aircrafts, and which raise higher their popularity quotient, and by implication, their fees. The title of "Management Guru", that too, conferred by peers, is a coveted one in this community. All that is very good, but what do you about the devil sitting in that corner office???
The "what" is answered to some extent by self-help. The self-help books and the self-help advisors exist on both sides of the chasm. Unbeknown to us, just as we are trying to figure out what makes that man or woman tick, he or she too is, or must be, or should be, crouching over some personnel management magazine or best-seller paperback that dwells on how to drive us - the workforce - to achieve results. In about the same way that we go through the numerous articles and books that give ample advice on "how to manage the boss"; the boss too is, or must be, or should be, attending seminars and workshops over the weekends to enhance their skills on people management.
All this rationalization is fine, but the question still remains unanswered: What To Do When The Boss Dictates Your Peace Of Mind? We could always up and walk out the door of course, and to hell with this psychoanalysis of the boss! But then we may have our own motivation to continue with the job: we need it to run the home and the hearth and there is no other option on the horizon for the time being. Or, despite the Boss factor, the job is still convenient because of x, y or zee reasons.
Or we are still waiting for the outcome of the interview we had appeared in, the other day. Or we may have - unbeknown to us - fallen in love with the boss, never mind what happens to the boss every full moon. Oh, you never know, the heart neither understands logic nor reason, and then there are so many twists and turns in everybody's life, aren't there?
Actually, come to think of it, the answer to this question is very simple. Don't Let Them! Don't Let Them Dictate Your Peace Of Mind! Deny them the pleasure of having disturbed your peace of mind. Deny them the pleasure of seeing your face falling or your skin reddening or your body shaking or whatever it is that happens when the boss applies their deathly weapon on you.
My take is that the boss, for whatever period he or she is there in our life, is there to make us aware of our own attitude towards authority figures. Every encounter is a lesson that shines the spotlight on something that we are supposed to learn. And when the lesson has been learnt -- either we understand how to effectively manage this human being, or we realize that there is a limit to our tolerance and we fling the resignation letter in their face and leave, or we learn the dynamics of living and the beauty of adjustment in the particular circumstance -- the purpose of the boss' existence in our life is over. We part ways with this particular boss. And the next boss steps into our life. Or does not.
In the midst of all this, the key is to never let go of the peace of the mind. For it is only when we detach ourselves from the situation, do we actually send out the subtle signal to the other party that sorry, I am not game for this kind of behavior or this quality of interaction. It is entertaining indeed to observe how the boss responds to such a signal that is consistently coming from us! Wouldn't be a surprise if, after a few of these episodes, the boss begins to tiptoe around us as if we were a minefield, while simultaneously carrying on with their very same old merry behavior with the rest of the employees! I am simplifying here; but you get the drift.
Try it. And remember that, if you are at all career-oriented and an organization-person for the long-term, you will be Boss one day yourself! Unless you are already one. Good for you, for if you discover tomorrow that one of your juniors is suddenly behaving oddly differently to your usual barking; you will know where they read the tip from! And you will also know now the why, and what to do about it! Go easy on them, please.