02 Jun 2018 19:55 IST

So you think your boss is ineffective

The same organisation that hired you also gave your boss the job; they must know what they’re doing

One of the most common complaints I hear with regard to workplace problems is that the boss is not good enough. The comments range from the superior being political, dumb and ineffective, to 'he's unfit to lead the team!'.

Although I do not claim all bosses are perfect, it does seem a bit unbelievable that there are so many useless bosses around and that our companies continue to function inspite of them. Unless artificial intelligence has already been secretly implemented in all these companies, the effectiveness of all these managers must have some logic and merit.

In this context, I am reminded of a mythological tale.

Sage Narada once approached Lord Vishnu and asked him who Vishnu’s best devotee was. Narada hoped the Lord would point at him and give him the title. However, Lord Vishnu pointed to a poor farmer toiling away in his field under a blazing sun. Needless to say, Narada was very upset. But before he could protest, Lord Vishnu asked him to complete a small task. He handed Narada a cup filled to the brim with oil and asked him to go around the world.

The sage set off to complete this task and very carefully finished going around the world. He went to Lord Vishnu and proudly showed him the cup, stating he had successfully completed the task. Lord Vishnu smiled and asked Narada how many times he thought of the Lord, or prayed to him, during his trip around the world. Narada protested, saying he was totally focused on the task at hand, and his mind was only on ensuring that not even a drop of oil would spill. Lord Vishnu pointed to the farmer and said in the midst of all his various tasks and hardship, the farmer constantly thought of Vishnu and also prayed to him. That was why the farmer was Vishnu’s best devotee.

Empathy and perspective

In a somewhat similar manner, most management graduates start their career with the firm belief that they are the best resource. Although this confidence is good and self-motivation can help better performance, it cannot and should not translate into thinking less of others. This is often the main reason why bosses are considered to be less capable, among other things.

One should keep in mind that if nothing else, the same organisation that hired a person also entrusted the boss with their role and designation. The organisation must have benefited from the boss’s efforts and contribution, otherwise he or she would not be the boss.

The second aspect one should bear in mind when being critical of your boss is that the demands, pressures, and issues being managed by the boss is at a higher level. You may not be aware of these things.

I know of many instances when the boss would take on all the pressure without his team being aware of it. Unfortunately, the team often thought of that boss as being very casual and laid back, without realising that he was their biggest buffer against pressure.

Keep these things in mind when you feel like second-guessing or criticising your boss. If nothing else, you can avoid being stressed because of your boss woes.

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