As you are reading this, I imagine that many of you are already neck-deep in planning for National Bosses Day next week. There is so much to do, decorating the office, wrapping presents, writing speeches. Of course, I am being facetious. It is hard for me to figure how this “day” came into being.
It seems sort of counterintuitive to give recognition to this person who at times may make your life difficult or even a living hell. They make more money than you do. They do a job that maybe you think you can do as well or better. But for whatever reason, they are the ones who have been chosen to be in charge.
In defense of the boss, I would say there is an old adage that applies, which has been attributed to William Shakespeare – “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” The crown may be imaginary, but the restlessness probably is not. Your boss likely bears many responsibilities such as employee issues, making payroll, stocking inventory, shipping woes, paying taxes, debt servicing, ad infinitum. Looking at it from that perspective, who would want to be a boss? But the good boss can inspire, motivate, teach and hopefully develop tomorrow’s bosses and leaders.
Notice I mentioned “good boss.” Of course, you can learn things even from a “bad boss.” You can learn the things not to do. One of my first bosses, for good or for bad, was Mr. Martin. He was retired military and working on his second career. This man was so tight with a dollar, he insisted upon running water through the coffee grinds twice to get two pots out of one filter. That is a nice trick to motivate your coffee-loving employees to get to work on time! The second pot of coffee tasted pretty gnarly.
Another boss of mine, Nancy, taught me how to interact with employees and how to show grace in difficult situations. This has been an important lesson that has served me well over the years.
And then there was Ron. He was a very generous man. He would occasionally give me tickets to the USC football games, season tickets for seats that were right on the fifty-yard line marker. What a guy! Another time, he invited me to a professional tennis match in Indian Wells, CA. We were in a courtside box, he and I on the front row where the players stand to serve or receive service, and our wives seated together on the row directly behind us. Out came players Venus and Steffi to take the court. As a side note, those professional women tennis players are MUCH larger in person than they appear on TV.
As the tennis match started, Ron started to talk business with me. Here we were, with tennis being played at the highest levels by these superstars just a few feet in front of us. And he was discussing all the things that needed to happen at work next week. On Monday, this. On Tuesday, that. After about ten minutes, we finally settled in to watch tennis.
About thirty minutes into the match, Ron nodded off to sleep with his head on my shoulder. Talk about a Kodak moment! You might think that after so many years, I’d have forgotten about that little episode. I would have let it all go by now. Well, consider where we were seated. The whole thing was captured on national television, nap and all. You can watch it if you want to. I have it recorded on a VCR tape!
So, what will you get for the boss this year? I can’t speak for all the bosses out there. But I would say that most bosses would really appreciate... nothing at all. Perhaps just a kind word that you recognize and appreciate all that the boss-man has to go through. That would probably be as welcome a gift as any greeting card or necktie.
If you want my opinion about who was really boss, I’d have to say Anna Kournikova!
Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County.