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Dec 11, 2006

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Autocrats, dictators, and dominant bosses

The Frogs desiring a King, Aesop's fables

A majority of complaints and agitated office gossips are related to
the bosses, either they are too incompetent, demanding,
unreasonable, or autocratic. It is difficult to work under these
types of managers and supervisors and the frustrations at work
lead to misery and low morale and eventually disaster for the
company. While many of the complaints are fair and true, we have
pulled out a fable which reminds us to look at situations in the
proper perspective. Understand the wise words that we often do
not appreciate the value of a person until we lose him. Amidst our
frustrations with our boss, spouse, or friends, step back and
consider the alternatives and possibilities. Can we do without them?
Will the next one that comes along be a worse nightmare for us?

Story:

The Frogs desiring a King

The Frogs asking for a King

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

The Frogs were living as happy as could be in a marshy swamp
that just suited them; they went splashing about caring for
nobody and nobody troubling with them. But some of them
thought that this was not right, that they should have a king
and a proper constitution, so they determined to send up a
petition to Jove to give them what they wanted. "Mighty Jove,"
they cried, "send unto us a king that will rule over us and keep
us in order." Jove laughed at their croaking, and threw down
into the swamp a huge Log, which came down splashing into
the swamp. The Frogs were frightened out of their lives by
the commotion made in their midst, and all rushed to the bank
to look at the horrible monster; but after a time, seeing that it
did not move, one or two of the boldest of them ventured out
towards the Log, and even dared to touch it; still it did not
move. Then the greatest hero of the Frogs jumped upon the
Log and commenced dancing up and down upon it, thereupon
all the Frogs came and did the same; and for some time the
Frogs went about their business every day without taking the
slightest notice of their new King Log lying in their midst. But
this did not suit them, so they sent another petition to Jove,
and said to him, "We want a real king; one that will really rule
over us." Now this made Jove angry, so he sent among them
a big Stork that soon set to work gobbling them all up. Then
the Frogs repented when too late.

Moral:

Better no rule than cruel rule.
Be careful what you wish for.
Be content with what you have.

Kidding me:

Never annoy the Gods. When you ask them to fulfill your
wishes, don't nag or repeat in every prayer. This will only
make the Gods angry and you will get your just deserts.

Boss decides salary

Quotable Quotes:

“Dictators ride to and fro on tigers they dare not
dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.”
... Winston Churchill

“Power always thinks ... it is doing God's service,
when it is violating His laws.” ... John Adams

“Principles are only excuses for what we want to
think or what we want to do.” ... Compton Mackenzie

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised
for the good of its victims may be the most
oppressive ... for they do so with the approval
of their own conscience.” ... C. S. Lewis

“Only man is not content to leave things as they
are.” ... Elspeth Huxley

“If a man ... will be content to begin with doubts,
he shall end in certainty.” ... Francis Bacon

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

This gave rose to the terms “King Log” (a peaceful king that
never makes his power felt) and “King Stork” (a tyrant feared
by his subjects). The world had seen countless dictators and
tyrants who ruled the people with iron fists. However, in an
unstable political climate, a firm hand may not be all that bad.
If you think dictatorial rule is flawed, there are scholars who
place modern democracies in the same light. Their contention
is that the candidates fielded for Presidential elections are
not the “public servants” whom the electorate can hire and
fire at will. Servants in your house will not have a stately
mansion, chauffeured car, and armed bodyguards. In that
sense, elected officials are not “public servants” but our
Masters. The foolish people in demanding democracy have
voted themselves into servitude and oblivion. Of course, this
is a rather extreme view and I personally do not subscribe to it.
What I do believe though, is that people are never content with
what they have. Where a government has managed the country
well, the people think that they deserve a better government.
Where a boss treats us well, we think that we could have an
even better boss. Very often, people equate firm leadership to
dictatorship or unpopular policies to tyranny rule. There is a
world of difference. It takes bitter medicine to cure a sickness.
Good leadership is one which can pull off correct but unpopular
policies to deal with a crisis. In response to attacks on the
currency by money market speculators during the East Asian
financial crisis which started some time in 1997, Malaysia
took a wholly unorthodox set of measures which included
pegging their Malaysian ringgit to the US dollar. At that time,
their move was criticised by many global financial institutions
and analysts. Years later, when their strategy seemed to have
worked, compliments poured in to commend on the bold and
effective move taken by the Malaysian Government. Some
policies, like tax and fee hikes, are not as controversial,
but naturally unpopular. However, citizens should learn to
see the big picture, instead of demanding for a change in their
leader.

If you have been griping about your Boss, try imagining what
your work environment will be like if all the present policies
and practices are reversed. Give you some food for thought.
(1) You are unhappy that you have to work very long hours,
although you draw a decent salary package. The reverse is
for the company to employ more workers to do the work,
but you draw a lesser pay. (2) Your Boss gives you room to
exercise initiatives, but he takes all the credit for your
successful projects. The reverse is for the Boss to control
you tightly, and you take all the blame for having no new
initiatives added to your portfolio. (3) You live in a country
that has laws governing almost anything you do, and your
freedom is somewhat curtailed. The reverse is to be in a
country with no laws, or no enforcement of its laws, and you
have as much freedom as the criminally-minded ones. Of all
these situations, which would make you happier? Would you
rather have a King Log or a King Stork?

Related Articles:

Bosses who want their way
Learn the Art of Saying NO
The Boss is Always Right
My Boss is an Idiot

Books worth reading:

For some light comical satire on the road map to becoming
a dictator, try this book by Andre de Guillaume, How to Rule
the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring Dictator. It is a dig
on how politicians seize power, accumulate wealth, and have
sophisticated love life, drawn from certain examples of
historical dictators and tyrants.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVES

Perspective Perspective Perspective