Sunday, September 18, 2011

Everyone Knows Who the Boss Is

I heard a horror story from a friend. She was telling her boss when she was planning her vacation and when she would need time off. Her boss expressed concerns about having enough people on staff at any given time--a legitimate concern. However, she also expressed her equally legitimate concern about when her greater family would need her, and he replied, “You will take your vacation when I say because I am the boss!”

Yikes! I have been an administrator for 20 years, and I have served 15 years as a superintendent of schools--the chief executive officer for the board of directors for a public school district. In all that time, I have never had to remind a single staff member that I had executive authority over them. I always felt it was crystal clear to them without any reminders from me.

It must have been a very insecure person indeed to feel so inferior that he had to point out to one of his charges, “Look at me! I am somebody important! And I can tell you what to do!”

The point is this: employees know who the boss is. They know what it means. They generally respect the person in that position, and they often defer to their boss’ ideas.

So as an administrator, you need the feedback of your subordinates and staff to be your most effective. Do you cultivate this? Do you encourage the input of employees? A good boss not only asks for opinions but also compliments dissenting ideas.

When you are attending a team meeting, do you jump into the conversation right away? Do you try to steer the meeting? Or do you hang back and let people bring forth their thoughts before you weigh in? The boss’ opinion can be a sledgehammer at the table. Make sure you use it judiciously.

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