Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two Bosses

Animals instinctively know the most dangerous predators but many people seem to have lost the ability to spot a workplace carnivore.

I'll cite two bosses as an example. I have two people in mind but I've seen their types in a multitude of workplaces.

The first one is a yeller. She frequently shouts at employees and one of their common questions is, "What sort of mood is she in today?" When she is happy, all is calm and her team members are about as relaxed as they can be about a dangerous creature who can become foul-tempered within seconds. But when she is unhappy, as the old expression goes, ain't nobody happy.

The second boss would never shout. He speaks softly and is always polite. He is thoughtful and patient. His patience is deceptive.

It's why people are so surprised when he fires them.

There is a saying: "Beware the anger of the patient man." The first boss vents and shouts and yet is less inclined to terminate than the second one whose politeness is often misinterpreted as weakness. Talk to people who deal with these two personalities and invariably they describe the first boss as the tough one.

The oddest aspect of the scenario is that the boss with the rough edges may be the more caring. Although she clearly needs to change her management style, she is not reluctant to engage with people. Her quiet colleague, on the other hand, would rather fire than counsel or coach. In his book, you are either with the program or you are gone.

Those who think that the yeller is the more dangerous are missing vibrations that any gazelle would quickly sense.

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