Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How's "Boss-ship" Working for Us?

Although I haven't seen it yet, I think the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" might create some interesting dialogue within our corporate offices.

However, will any of the bosses represented by Meryl Streep's character in the movie be the ones having those dialogues? Do bosses still think "boss-ship" (as opposed to leadership) works in the workplace? Apparently they do, according to Working America's My Bad Boss Contest.

Some of these entries are doozies! I’m wondering why people are still using fear as motivation or, as I’m learning from The Power Principle, coercive power to get short-term “results,” and long-term broken relationships.

Shifting from the boss’s perspective to the employee’s: what is the reason we focus on these negative forces in our lives? So we can share our war stories and get some sort of comfort from each other? Why do we put up with this type of behavior?

If we’re honest – both as bosses and as employees – wouldn’t we admit that what’s going on just isn’t working? I’m not judging here, just observing. What if there were no “right” or “wrong,” just what works or what doesn’t?

Is it fear that keeps bosses using “boss-ship”? Maybe bosses come to their action from their own perspective which is totally fear-based. Think about what we know about abusive parental relationships. That behavior tends to perpetuate throughout generations because we act as we’re taught. We’re fearful about so many things – about getting in trouble, about losing our jobs, about lots of things we probably can’t even articulate.

Why are we so obsessed with fear in our lives? What is the appeal of the TV show Fear Factor? Why do we love scary movies? Why do we love extreme sports and huge rollercoasters? Maybe we want to get that adrenaline rush and feeling of accomplishment that comes from overcoming a challenge. Maybe we like these situations because we are choosing to put ourselves there and we do have some sense of control, as opposed to work environments or family relationships where fear is present.

Maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is as simple as “How is this working for me?” If we’re honest about the answer, then we can move to another question: “What might I do differently?” and then be committed to action depending upon that answer.

The topic of Fear is one of the chapters of my new book The 100% Factor scheduled to be available by the first part of September. “How is this working for me?” and “What might I do differently?” are two questions I ask throughout the book. If we can determine those answers for ourselves, we have a wonderful opportunity to make a positive difference in our own lives and those around us.

Whether you’re a boss, a leader, or an employee, ask yourself those questions. Let’s stop celebrating how bad the bosses are and start focusing our efforts on what IS working. Instead of focusing on just making a difference, let’s be more specific and focus on making a POSITIVE difference in our workplaces, communities, and families.


At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think as long as people don't feel empowered or "powerful within," then they will continue to feel a need to exert "power over" others to feel good about themselves. I know this doesn't address the overall hierarchical structural issues in most companies, but I do believe that helping empower individuals is a good place to start. Thanks for your insightful look at this issue of power and "boss-ship."

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Thanks for your comments, Kirsten. I don't know much about the psychological facts, so I'm grateful that you can add your expertise here! I totally agree that helping to empower individuals is a great place to start. And the next step might be to encourage people to take on their empowerment. I think there are two sides to the lack of empowerment dialogue: whether or not those in authority give the opportunity to be empowered, and whether or not those who are empowered choose to do something with it.

Maybe I'll write something about the importance of giving AND receiving in a future post ... that might be where another disconnect exists.

Thanks as always for sharing your wisdom!


At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right Jodee. Change must come from both sides of that dialogue. Change will happen as bosses learn different ways to lead AND as employees claim their personal power and take charge of how they want to be treated. I look forward to more from you on this. I really like what you are sharing.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

I will make this a post in the next few days. Thanks for getting me thinking more about it!


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