Boss is not always right!
I used to have a positional big boss who was new to the job and hardly had knowledge of the industry or the multinational way of working. Every time, my team put up a proposal to him, he would look at others in the meeting instead of me while knowing all too well where the right level of knowledge was to be found.
Often, he would delay the approval because he would easily get confused with the debate and discussion at the board or meeting. Here, he was in the wrong, both in his lack of knowledge and his attitude. Such traditional bosses often tend to hide behind a facade and focus more on using their authority to prove he or she is the boss.
In our generation of corporate life, the mantra that was imbued in us was, "The rule no. 1: The boss is always right. The rule no. 2: If the boss is wrong, see the rule no.1."
You would find very few who wouldn't know the rules of dealing with the boss. However, my mantra was slightly different although very close to that – "The boss isn't always right, but he is still the boss".
Based on the above real-life example, how can one still say that the boss is always right? And yet this is the most dangerous unwritten rule that we follow in the workplace. It undermines the organisation's mission, work goals and effective employee engagement. This way, we are not only fooling ourselves but also the bosses.
The boss is not always right because a boss, as a human being, can make mistakes – to err is human. It's also true that they have the power of concealing their own mistakes and shortcomings.
On the other hand, ethical leadership dictates that leaders admit their own mistakes, as it's a sign of strength, not weakness.
In the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0, it is critical to innovate and generate creative ideas continuously and thus there is no room for complacency or maintaining the status quo. To create a culture of innovation and creativity, the boss must welcome challenges and feedback and allow people with less positional power to warn you when they think you are about to make a mistake.
The onus of creating such an environment lies with the boss! When the boss starts discussing his own failures and mistakes in front of others, it passes a clear message to the rest as to how the supervisors should behave in that organisation. The sequence of change starts from there. Such behaviour also helps the boss remain relevant to the industry and grow as a leader of an innovative organisation.
McKinsey & Company carried out a survey on the boss factor in 2020. The summary of it is: of the drivers of life satisfaction, 25 per cent is job satisfaction,
Of the 25 per cent, 39 per cent is interpersonal relationships, and of the 39 per cent, 86 per cent is the relationship with management. Excluding the mental health element, it shows how critical job satisfaction is to life satisfaction.
Therefore, it is extremely important to learn how to tell your bosses they are wrong. Each boss is different and you can't apply the same rule everywhere.
The philosophy of the boss-subordinate relationship should be "agree to disagree". If you fail to convince your boss about your point of view, then go by the philosophy of 'Agree to Disagree'. It is very important to ensure that you have a space with your boss to share your thought openly.
Globally, research has been carried out to prove that there is a direct relationship between company performance and supervisor effectiveness.
Hence, it is critical for each company to ensure that there is a system of 360-degree assessment of all supervisors or bosses covering both qualitative and quantitative. It will ensure that your boss always has this axe hanging over his or her head, which will, in turn, determine his growth within the company. So, do not fret if you have been wrongly denied an opportunity or have not been given a voice as part of the team. Wait for the 360-degree appraisal.
This article is more directed toward the company owners or boards as well as the bosses to ensure that they understand the current leadership need and are putting the right systems and processes in place so that bosses create an environment that drives creativity and innovation for the sustainable growth of the business.
It is imperative that a boss works on building trust and respect on one hand and at the same time, recognise and promote the good work of the team members on the other.
While driving the growth of the business and improving employee engagement based on the above guidelines, please don't make the mistake of applying it at home, where we know who is always the boss!
At home, the rule always remains the same as the saying goes: "The rule no. 1: The boss at home is always right. The rule no. 2: If the boss is wrong, see the rule no. 1."
The author is a telecom and management expert