“Protecting” the boss

Greetings! I enjoyed the holiday break but am happy to be getting back to a normal routine. I pray that you also had some special time to spend with family and to focus on faith and growth. I cannot imagine what 2015 will bring into each of our lives. For John and me, it promises to be interesting!

While we were away, we listened to several books on CD. Borrowed from our public library, recorded books allow us to enjoy a good story or two while driving. Yesterday, we were deep into a John Grisham novel (we haven’t finished it quite yet) when the attitudes and actions of three minor characters caught my attention.

The first was the “boss.” An elected politician, he had spent years cultivating his message, his image and his actions during times of celebration and of strive. In the story he was under pressure to make a tough decision. Select one option and 98% of those who voted for him during his last election will be pleased; go the other way and future reelections might be in jeopardy. But,the popular option turned out to be not the better choice based on the merits of the situation.

The other two characters worked for the “boss.” When presented with information that proved that the popular option was wrong, they decided to “protect” their “boss” and keep the new information from him.

I know – it is just a story. But, in this situation, who is at fault? I have been in situations when it was best to “protect the boss” and that’s exactly what I did. You know what I mean. Protect the schedule. Protect the integrity of the office. Protect the system for decision making. But, how far do we go?

More importantly, as the “boss”, how far do we want people to go in filtering information for and from us? And, to whom do we give that authority? In this Grisham story, the wrong decisions were made. The subordinates (and, by default, the “boss”) chose poorly. And, because it is a novel, heads rolled (not literally). The Grisham “boss” delegated too much or the subordinates took on too much – same terrible result.

And, I have seen the exact opposite situation in play – the “boss” delegating nothing and subordinates being fearful of doing anything without their boss’ knowledge and approval.

So, which are we? In nearly all leadership assignments, we need people to filter information and decisions for us. Do they know what our priorities are? Do they understand the limits? Do we encourage open discussion that leads to establishment and reaffirming of the right boundaries?

Or do we trust blindly or do we take the opposite route and trust no one?

 

“Masters, treat your servants considerately. Be fair with them. Don’t forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven. Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude…Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” (Colossians 4:1-6)

 

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