Are you smarter than your boss?

Do you think you are smarter than your boss?

If you are convinced you are smarter than your boss, what should you do?

I cannot count the number of times people have expressed their dissatisfaction with their boss and added, “I know more than my boss.”

In these situations, I do not give advice, but I ask questions, many questions.

My thoughts go back to a personal experience that happened many decades ago.

During my twenties, I was a salesman for a food service equipment dealer.  My boss never seemed satisfied with me.  Yet, he was always expressing how pleased he was with his two favorite salesmen.  I was outperforming both of them.

I was baffled.

In sales, I consistently ranked with the top performers.  Even though one of the youngest salesmen, I was the only one capable of designing, selling and installing the equipment for a complete food service operation.  In fact, I had designed kitchens for more of the local high visibility name restaurants than anyone at any of the food service equipment dealers in our market area.

Confrontations with my boss were a regular occurrence.  It seemed that I seldom pleased him no matter how productive my performance.

If my conflict with the boss was not because of my sales performance, it had to be something else.  I thought maybe it could be lifestyle since mine was very different from the two men he favored most, yet, I could not see any substantial similarity in the life-style of those two men.  Their backgrounds could not have been more different.  One was aristocratic and sophisticated, and the other was redneck and rough.

Our boss was not like either of them.  He was competent, socially active and respected in the local business community.  None of we three salesmen had, the same type of connections the boss did, in fact, none of us traveled in the same circles at all. All four of us had a different lifestyle; whatever caused the boss to favor the other two men must not have been a lifestyle issue.

Why did I not receive the favor and recognition of the other two salesmen?

Then, one day it dawned on me.  How could I have been so dumb for so long?

Those other two men did everything exactly the way the boss liked it done!  Anything he asked they would do.  The boss didn’t even have to ask.  Whatever he suggested they would immediately do, exactly the way he liked it done.

I had rediscovered another Principle of Creative Followership.  Even though I had known this principle, I had not been actively using it.  Not using it had cost me my boss’s favor and handicapped my advancement within the company.

Do It the Way the Boss Likes it Done

As I began to apply this Principle and do it the way the boss liked it done, my status with my boss improved amazingly!

Unfortunately, this boss and I had some fundamental differences in our ethics and attitudes about how customers should be treated and business should be conducted.  He asked his employees to do things that I was not willing to do.

To be successful in my relationship with my boss, I now knew that I must be willing to do it the way the boss liked it done.  In this situation, there were too many times when I could not do that.

My Choice?  Do it the way the boss likes it done or choose a new boss.

Then I remembered that popular expression of power used by tough bosses.  I had worked for more than one boss who liked to say it, “It’s my way or the highway!”

I decided that “my way or the highway” was not a boss exclusive slogan.  I was not willing to do it the way the boss wanted it done.  I used the slogan myself, since I was not willing to do it his way, I chose the highway, and fired my boss.

Of course, I did choose a new boss before I fired the one I was leaving.

Jimmy Collins

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