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Posts Tagged ‘boss

Bad Bosses Episode 3: “I’m the boss!”

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“Do you have any…where would I start…?”

Leadership needs to cut new patterns.


Via Adfreak

Written by kirkistan

September 10, 2015 at 10:02 am

Policy is the Gulag of Good Ideas

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Good Ideas Sour and Stink When Enshrined as Law


“We’ll do it this way going forward.”


If you could do a quick, very honest poll of employees listening to their boss say those words, how many would silently be saying, “No. We won’t do it that way.”

  • 50 percent?
  • 99 percent?
  • 100 percent?
HM Prison Geelong

HM Prison Geelong

It is possible the very nature of the hierarchical or “push” corporation lends itself to sapping motivation from good ideas. When ideas come from above as pre-packaged laws-of-this-workplace, a piece of humanity goes dormant in the otherwise engaged employee. Enough of those pre-packaged laws-of-this-workplace and work becomes full of half-functioning automatons.

A room full of automatons working only for the weekend or the money or to keep a job or to avoid the boss’s wrath may have succeeded 50 years ago, or even 25 years ago. But  smart corporations and organizations will study how to turn their hired automatons into full-fledged, interactive humans while at work, not just after work.

Inevitably, that involves hearing from employees. It must be about hearing from more than the boss or those favored few. And know this: engaged people talk and discuss. That is the way of owning a process. Automatons cannot own a process. But engaged people can own a process, no matter where they fit in the organization.

Once upon a time, the lovely Mrs. Kirkistan and I spent a few years at a volunteer organization that had a compelling mission. But that mission was hindered by a hierarchical leadership approach that treated volunteers as cogs in an unyielding machine. There was no room to engage, revise, add-to or direct from within the roles we played. Only a few key leadership voices could do that. We eventually walked, as did other talented people in a variety of roles.

Coming generations of working stiffs will expect their voices to be heard. Or they will walk.

We can all grow in listening for engaged voices with solid ideas.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

The Boss Problem: When Does Your Purpose Become Mine?

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Tell Me About It.

tumblr_lqqqy5hBwW1r1en7uo1_r1_250-04152013One of my bosses gently chided me for my language: I kept saying “they” in reference to her boss and the leadership structure and the stated purposes of the medical device company we both worked for. She was exactly right: I did not use “we” because I felt separate from the decisions being made and the direction chosen. It was not a conscious choice on my part; I was just reacting to all the pre-conscious activity that happened outside my engagement. My language, which seemed to choose itself, was the telltale.

The boss problem is how to engage employees (or a team) with the problems and purposes at hand.

“What’s the problem?” you might say. “We pay these people so they should do with that boss says.”

That’s true, they should. And they likely will perform at some level, though giving an employee a reason for doing something is a step toward improving performance. Better yet: if the employee feels ownership, that they are personally involved in this task, that they have something at stake, perhaps that condition generates the best performance.

But getting someone to feel ownership for a task is something of an art. There is also an inherent compassion to it: a boss must understand that transferring ownership starts with a shared purpose that sits prior to her command. Sharing ownership begins with the relational approaches in the team long before the purposes and problems come in view. Sharing ownership brings risk for the boss—his reputation is at stake as well. Words by themselves—though always the beginning point—cannot accomplish the transfer if the boss does not believe it. Employees and teammates come equipped with highly-attuned BS indicators and can spot a fake before a word is spoken.

But isn’t sharing ownership the only reasonable solution when fully-grown humans are involved together in a work process?


Image credit: thorelimo via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

April 15, 2013 at 9:13 am

Prayer for a Toxic Boss

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Give the boss your justice, O God.

May she judge her team with righteousness,

And those with a steep learning curve with hope.

Let the mountains bear prosperity as she credits workers for their work.

May he listen to the wisdom of the poor and experienced on his team

and defend their cause.

May righteousness and honesty flourish under him,

So the team has success and all they touch may progress.

Turn his ignorant bloviating

To intelligent questions.

Set her mind on reaching out with wisdom and skill to others

Rather than hunkering in protective maneuvers.

Free his tongue to utter truth

Rather than reacting with clichés that obscure ignorance.

Separate her ego from the work

So she can direct her team and fix her talents on our larger goals

In her days may the righteous flourish and peace abound, till the moon be no more!


Written by kirkistan

September 19, 2011 at 5:00 am

Posted in Ancient Text, work and faith

Tagged with , ,

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