Leadership and the Collection of Right Arms


This has been on my mind lately.  Mostly because my boss is not a very good boss.  He has no realization of what it means to be a good leader, but I think he’s been taught.  Sometimes his actions do not match his words.

He, for instance, will talk to me calmly with condescending words.  He has obviously been told not to yell at people.

This, though, isn’t about how to be a good leader.  It’s what I’ve learned as a leader.  It’s the little things that I use as measuring sticks.

I believe I’m an alpha male.  I hate to say that, but I’ve been a leader as far back as I can remember.  Although, when I’ve heard the term “alpha male” used about people over the years, I’ve found that person is so desperate to be respected they act overly aggressive.

Big and loud only instill fear.  While fear is a valuable tool, it’s not nearly the first one I go to.

Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know. Keep your mouth closed. Guard your senses. Temper your sharpness. Simplify your problems. Mask your brightness.

I’m the boss.  I don’t need to tell you.  You know.

I also don’t require to be the boss.  But I have issues with authority.

All that aside.

Although I’ve been in a leadership position much of my career, it was when I went into a management position that I saw things change.  I learned that how I present myself and how I’m treated were suddenly different.  I didn’t ask for it.

The first thing I learned is that my mood affects everybody’s mood.  Related or unrelated.  It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t help that I’m hard to read.  It doesn’t help that I’m generally all business at work.

One part of my operation was struggling not long after I got my promotion years ago.  A woman in another part of the operation asked me if it was her I was mad at.  I wasn’t mad.  I was stressed.  I was trying to solve an issue.  I hadn’t even bothered to worry about her because she was doing her job.

I quickly realized that in a position like that, people always assumed I was upset at them.  I had to make a change and engage people.  I had to let them know I was not upset.

Everybody will screw you out of an hour to save themselves ten minutes.  This is truth.  There is nothing worse than when people act selfishly.  If allowed, people will generally act this way.

This is where I try to engage my work groups as if they are a sports team.  Why would anybody leave the game before it’s over?  Why would you expect me to go around and finish everything you weren’t willing to?

Constant struggle.  Honestly.  But I always get there.

Always take care of those who take care of me.

Simple rule.  But it’s one that I have not seen in practice by others often.  People go into leadership roles for purely selfish reasons.  Generally money.  Often power.

I have always found that if I treat people well, the team works better.

But that means fighting for what the team needs even if it doesn’t fit with the management philosophy.  It’s a fine line.

They are, after all, a dysfunctional family, and need to be recognized as such.  We don’t get to pick who is in our family and we don’t get to choose who we work with, but we spend an extraordinary amount of time with people we work with.  Sometimes far more than we spend waking hours with those close to us.

This can cause tension.  This can cause fights.  This can also cause work groups to act closely.

I have one last thing I’ve learned I want to put here, but a little history and an answer to the question you may be asking.

Why are you writing this?

Years ago (going back more than two decades), I was in my first leadership position.  It took some adjusting and I was very young.  They gave me this line that it was on a trial basis.  If I did well then I would get the promotion.

We all want to be recognized and paid for the work we do.

At the time I was not making very much money.  A little relief would be good.

I was sat down and told I would not be getting the promotion.  I was told I walked too slow.  I was told I had a bad attitude.  I was also told that everybody who reported to me would give their right arm for me.

So I moved on.  My leadership was recognized at the next job and I was offered a promotion rather quickly.

Let’s fast forward to current day.  That is, after all, what is driving me to write this.

My boss is a micro manager.  He gives me no room to breathe.  I have experienced this before and it didn’t end well for me.

He pulled me to the side about a month ago and told me that my office is a mess and I walk too slow and I needed to get more done while cutting hours.  He would show me how to do my job since I haven’t figured out how to do it.

My boss has been on jury duty this week.  The whole place has been calmer.  It’s been lighter.  My team has been finishing quicker and going home earlier.  They have been taking care of me.  I’ve seen an increase in production.

Or maybe my mood affects their mood.

One of my guys told me the other day, I don’t care, bro, you are a very good boss.  I would work for you anywhere, anytime.

Nobody is offering their right arm to my boss.  Nobody.

And I guess that has been my number one measure of success.

How many right arms could I collect?

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