Is the Boss Always Right?

(by C.V. Subramaniam)

I n the room of one of the senior bureaucrats, I happened to se a nice-looking, small poster, in two parts, framed beautifully, and kept on the table. The poster in two parts read thus:

Rule no.1 : The Boss is Always Right

Rule No.2 : If there is any doubt, refer to rule No.1

So, virtually, you cannot and need not have a doubt; I really admired whosoever would have thought of this idea of enhancing the value of the official in the eyes of their subordinates who frequent to his room for discussions, getting files cleared etc and thus
Hinting at the supremacy of the person with whom you have to deal. The intention was clear: whatever decision I take is right; you are here to obey and follow; do not question me.

The normal tendency at least for the subordinates would be strict obedience, for you must always consider that your boss is right. And the majority would not dare to question that right of the boss.

I am sure that in the normal working life many would come across several such senior officials, who, whether or not they sport such nicely-framed posters in their rooms, would practically be wanting to be just obeyed and not questioned. They perhaps believe that like God they are blesses with the know-all syndrome. This sort of situations would particularly be noticed in the governmental set-up.

How do you face such situations? What happens to your own knowledge? Would you like to be a passive listener only? Or would you like to confront? These thoughts confuse you further. In the first instance, many such bosses would not like to listen to you, even if you have a point. On the other hand, even if the boss could somehow be pressurised into (which itself may be an arduous task) listening to you views, chances are that they are just heard without any impact on the final decision. For, that might hurt their ego, since finally it would mean agreeing to your views and would lead to erosion of his self-imposed supremacy. How does one face such situations? If you want to ultimately win and establish you being also right, on some occasions, the following tips may be useful. Your reaction could be in one of the following ways:

Tolerance; You really may have a valid point, for fear of being over-powered, you could simply tolerate.

Muster Courage: : Leave aside the fear, come what may, be bold and put across your views, knowing fully well that the boss would totally reject your views.

Try to go one Step Further: Here, you want to talk, you literally argue and try to convince in a forceful manner, as a clever salesman would try to convince you about his product. But you must ensure that your points are really valid and that you are on a sound wicket. When it comes to putting in writing also, be straightforward.

The Winning Post: : You have almost reached the winning path, but there could still be hurdles. The I am Always Right boss may still not surrender!

Patience and Perseverance: As long as you are acting as per your conscience, you can definitely not lose. The boss could start reasoning it out. Ultimately what is really right will always be right, and cannot go wrong or be wronged. Chances are that the boss realizes that this man has a point there and would would not hesitate to come down from his cosy Ivory Tower thinking.

Yes, this approach could be the mantra for success, since I myself could succeed this way. With the approach narrated above, to my surprise, I found that my boss had no problem in approving my proposals. When i asked about this, his reply was: ‘i find your proposals exactly the way I want and how can I disagree with them?’ and gave a broad smile. Who knows you could also win over your boss and get a broader smile in return from your boss!


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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