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Nov 30, 2006

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Bosses who want their way

The Wolf and the Lamb, Aesop's fables

If our children are so put off by the school bullies, wait till they
enter the workforce and see the professional bullies at work.
These are the bosses, managers, supervisors and whoever have
the slightest authority over us. Oh, they are good. They are so
well-trained in their bully tactics that they see themselves as
God. When they speak, it is as if God has spoken. The meek
workers, like the lamb we are going to read about, either get
sidelined or 'eaten up' by these people higher up in the corporate
hierarchy. It is one of the vicious truths of survival and there is
unlikely a day when the “meek inherits the earth”.


The Wolf and the Lamb

The Wolf and the Lamb

(Illus by Harrison Weir, John Tenniel, Ernest Griset)

Once upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside,
when, looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just
beginning to drink a little lower down. "There's my supper,"
thought he, "if only I can find some excuse to seize it."
Then he called out to the Lamb, "How dare you muddle
the water from which I am drinking?"

"Nay, master, nay," said Lambikin, "if the water be muddy
up there, I cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from
you to me."

"Well, then," said the Wolf, "why did you call me bad names
this time last year?"

"That cannot be," said the Lamb, "I am only six months old."

"I don't care," snarled the Wolf, "if it was not you it was your
father;" and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and
But before she died she gasped out "Any excuse will serve a


The tyrant will always find an excuse for his acts of tyranny.

Kidding me:

If the lamb is so silly as to drink next to the wolf, it should
accept the undenial laws of nature, i.e., it will become the
wolf's dinner. The lamb ought to realise that looks can be
deceiving. An innocent-looking wolf drinking water and
making small talk is actually conceiving a murder plot. So we
know now, avoid talking to anybody at the water cooler

Funny Back Stabbing office poster

Quotable Quotes:

“Two things to help keep one's job. First, let the
boss think he's having his own way. Second, let
him have it.” ... Sam Ewing

“The stronger man's argument is always the best.”
... Jean de La Fontaine

“Insecure managers create complexity.”
... Jack Welch

“The world is divided into people who do things
and people who get the credit. Try, if you can, to
belong to the first class. There's far less competition.”
... Dwight Morrow

“A good manager is a man who isn't worried about
his own career but rather the careers of those who
work for him.” ... H. S. M. Burns

“Having one idiot boss is a much higher risk than
having many idiot clients.” ... Scott Adams

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

People love giving excuses. There was heavy media bashing
on the excuses (not reasons) that George Bush and Tony Blair
gave for their invasion into Iraq. The Bush administration is
now paying a heavy price for it. Flip the newspapers, and you
will read the tons of excuses by all the criminals, failed
businessmen, and politicians, justifying their acts of crime,
misconduct, or unpopular policies. Nonetheless, they are no
different from anyone of us, you and me. Ever come across
bosses who find any sort of lame excuse to sack an employee,
or save on the bonus payouts? Ever had your boss tick you off
for something you are totally innocent of? Such bosses will do
anything to get what they want.

Upon my graduation, I did my tutelage with a fiery tempered
mentor who was fond of throwing files out of his room.
Thankfully, the middle manager whom I reported to had a
milder temper, but she was very particular about the little
details, like the commas and fullstops of every letter. This
sort of persons could spell the end of your career, because
if they want you kicked out, they will be able to find a whole
lot of petty excuses to do so. Then there were the usual
backstabbers, people who would poke you with many knives,
but maintain a consistent smiley face throughout the murder.
In almost every office I had worked in, I had encountered
this same lot of people, albeit in different ratios. Occasionally,
you may find bosses who are so reserved, quiet, and
collected, that you have no clue what is going on in their
minds. Also, there may be bosses who are obviously lacking
in knowledge and experience, and literally fear your presence.
These are the insecure bosses who will stifle your promotions,
and play down your rating, in order to hold on to their chair.

I had a client, a senior executive in a Japanese bank, who
showed me a stack of emails between her immediate
supervisor and her big bosses. The emails were actually
private, between her superiors, but one of which was
inadvertently blind copied to her. That was how she
learnt about the scheme of deceit, and plans to sack her.
Of course, situations like that were tricky. She could not
confront her bosses since these emails were not meant
for her eyes. Also, attempting to defend herself may
aggravate the bosses as the number one person in the
firm was part of the scheme. Guess what? She was finally
fired based on the petty reason of sending personal emails
during office hours, and the company had records of the
emails to support their contention. Sidetracking a little,
may I remind you that you should check and re-check
your email recipient list before pressing the “send” button.
It can be embarrassing and awkward should confidential
information be sent to the wrong parties.

The “lambs” are usually the ones who have worked in the
companies for the longest time. These people are unlikely
to find alternative jobs outside, especially if they are aged.
The nasty bosses would capitalize on this, dish out all sorts
of demands, and make them scapegoats, knowing that this
lot of people will take everything thrown at them and stay put.

If this has been happening to you, perhaps it is time to check out
the classified ads for other job opportunities. It is pointless
arguing or reasoning with tyrants as it would only add more
misery to a sour relationship. Are you a wolf or a lamb? Sad to
say, if you look deep inside you, think of what you did today
at work and at home, you are likely to agree that almost all
of us are wolves at one point or other.

Related Articles:

Autocrats, dictators, and dominant bosses
Learn the Art of Saying NO
The Boss is Always Right
My Boss is an Idiot

Books worth reading:

If you are keen to learn more about the Bush administration's
conduct of the war in Iraq, Bob Woodward gives you all the
answers in this bestseller State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III.

How do you cope with people who are toxic: narcissistic,
aggressive, inflexible, unethical, ready to scapegoat, capable
of transforming any workplace into an unending nightmare?
Hear from a mental health professional and an organizational
consultant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Lubit, in the book
Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates ...And Other
Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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