On the subject of Idiot Bosses

“Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.”

-Heinrich Heine

In my last post I wrote: “The coolest part is that this week is my kids’ spring break and it I didn’t even have to ask my idiot boss for the week off. I’m my own idiot boss.”

Interestingly, some of my former bosses contacted me and inquired in a very gentle way, whether or not I was referring to them. I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like this: “Fool! I better not be the idiot boss you were talking about! I pity the fool who be talking about me in that way. Don’t make me have to mess you up.”  🙂

For the record, I actually didn’t have any idiot bosses after about the age of 25. Before that, there were a few that were dumber than dirt, but I credit these folks with giving me the motivation to become an entrepreneur. The bosses I had after that period were actually intelligent, great leaders and sources of learning who progressively helped me get to the place I am today.  In fact, I blame them for delaying my decision to become a full-time entrepreneur for so long.

So where did the idiot boss thing from?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been teaching college courses for a number of years in the areas of business, organizational development and sociology. In fact, last year, I started teaching a class titled, “The Sociology of Work and Professions”. I know. You’re thinking, really? That’s a thing? Yes, it is. So there.

In any case, my classes have many young people in the early stages of their career. Because they are in entry-level jobs and/or haven’t figured out what they want to do yet, they are unfulfilled and tend to complain, especially about “management”.  Still, many don’t want management or supervisory positions and are not motivated to start their own businesses because they think it’s too much work or too complicated.

 Here is my typical response:

“Look, you can either work for an idiot boss or you can be the idiot boss. I’ve always chosen to be the idiot boss”.

On a serious note, anyone really unsatisfied with their job should either look for another job, strive for promotion, consider starting their own business or do all of the above. Nothing good will happen if you hate your job and stay.

I personally think that everyone should at least consider being in business for themselves. Like it or not, we are all self-employed anyway. You may not realize this or you may be lousy at it, but it doesn’t change the fact. Ultimately, only you are responsible for the well-being of you and your family.

This is a hard this for many people to grasp, but it’s true. If you doubt this, consider that in the United States, most states have at will employment laws.  In many ways, this means you are in a very position to an independent contractor anyway.  Most tax laws are also written to favor businesses.

Besides, even if you love your boss and company and they love you even more, it doesn’t mean they can control every aspect of a global economy. There are thousands of people laid off or downsized in the unemployment line who can attest to this.

So what I tell students to do about this seemingly depressing little bit of information?

 Embrace it.

Accept that you are your own boss and if you are only working one job, you simply have one large client.  What would you do differently every week if you didn’t have a boss, but a client contracting with your business? Then, your only security would be how good you were at what you did and how much value you brought to the table in return for what they pay you.

The truth is we’re all equals  and your job is just a value for value proposition. “Bosses” are just other human beings with problems and challenges that they need help with. Don’t get it twisted. Everything you think your “boss” makes you do is voluntary.  You can always say no. You just choose not to because you are getting something you want or need in return.

Ultimately, your boss better have some flaws, weaknesses and/or gaps in knowledge. After all, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t need you. You create more security by taking the time to understand what their real needs are, helping them get what they want and by constantly improving your product (you).

Of course, a lot of my students say that all this talk about “equals, clients and value for value” is just too much for them to wrap their heads around. I understand.

This is why I plan on offering Butt Kissing 101 and Advanced Butt Kissing courses next semester. If you’re interested, I would enroll ASAP. I expect that they will be very full. 🙂