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Sep 14, 2007

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My Boss is an Idiot

My Boss is an Idiot

Working hard and being extremely competent in what you do is
not the key to getting a promotion. Not when you have an idiot
and a fool as a boss, supervisor or manager. All of us may at one
time or other work with bosses who belong to that “no-brain,
no-skill” category, and our favorite happy-hour conversations
always center upon how these bosses got to that position of
power in the first place. It is anybody's guess, from the boot-
licker theory to the sleeping-with-the-right-person theory.
Whatever it may be, we can't sack our bosses. All is not lost
though, because we can do certain things to turn the situation
to our advantage.


The Ass in the Lion's Skin

My Boss is an Idiot

[Illus by Milo Winter]

An Ass found a Lion's skin left in the forest by a hunter. He
dressed himself in it, and amused himself by hiding in a
thicket and rushing out suddenly at the animals who passed
that way. All took to their heels the moment they saw him.

The Ass was so pleased to see the animals running away from
him, just as if he were King Lion himself, that he could not
keep from expressing his delight by a loud, harsh bray. A
Fox, who ran with the rest, stopped short as soon as he heard
the voice. Approaching the Ass, he said with a laugh:

"If you had kept your mouth shut you might have frightened
me, too. But you gave yourself away with that silly bray."


Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.
A fool may deceive by his dress and appearance, but his words
will soon show what he really is.
No disguise will hide one's true character.

Quotable Quotes:

“Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid
than to open it and remove all doubt.” ... Mark Twain

“When he said we were trying to make a fool of him,
I could only murmur that the Creator had beat us to it.”
... Ilka Chase

“Experience! Wise men do not need it.
Experience! Idiots do not heed it.”
... Ogden Nash

“There's a sucker born every minute.” ... P. T. Barnum

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not
thus handicapped.” ... Elbert Hubbard

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow
citizens, you can never regain their respect and
esteem. It is true that you may fool all the people
some of the time; you can even fool some of the
people all the time; but you can't fool all of the
people all the time.” ... Abraham Lincoln

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

Does your boss look like a Lion but is actually an Ass? It is easy
to recognize a fool. This person boasts of many years of
working experience and has the paper qualifications to prove
his worth. However, when he speaks, you begin to wonder if he
had been sleeping on his job or had bought his degree through
an auction. His knowledge can at best pass off for a first-year
trainee and his senseless decisions are often proven wrong.
You keep your ears to the ground and true enough, it is an
opinion shared by many other colleagues and people of average
qualification and training. One word to describe your boss –

How can you possibly work for an idiot boss? The answer lies in
what you intend to accomplish at this workplace. One: be a Hero,
challenge every foolish decision and expose the stupidity. Good
luck to you. You are one step away from the exit door. Two: be
a Survivor like those you see on the reality TV show. Learn the
Outwit, Ouplay and Outlast strategy. Stick to your career plan
and don't let anybody stand in your way. The first type of
personality, a hero exposing villains, leads to career suicide.
Even if you manage to successfully topple one employer,
subsequent employers would think twice about employing you
for fear that you might do the same to them. Better to be a
Survivor. Here are some points to think about when working for

Give boss the benefit of doubt

Under old management styles, employees are promoted based
on seniority. The longer you are on the job, the higher you
climb. Even if the person is aware of his limitations, he cannot
help but move up the ranks. The alternative is to remain
behind while peers and cohorts surge ahead. Perhaps the boss
was one such pathetic soul, caught in the tide, and his position
of power wasn't something he asked for and yet was something
nobody in the right mind would refuse.

Respect the position and not the person

From a psychological angle, it is easier to accept that we are
taking instructions from the Head Office even though the CEO
sitting in that office was the one issuing them. Think about it -
“The management wants this to be done” versus “Mr X wants
this to be done.” When a name is behind the order, it gets
personal and we start to attach to it our feelings and emotions.
We are unlikely to do a good job knowing that we are helping
a person we do not respect. However, if we consider ourselves
doing the task for the company which has been paying us the
salary, we are more likely to obey and perform to the best of
our ability. It sounds subtle but in our opinion, it does help to
cast aside the ill feelings when getting a job done.

Do not be a threat

Outdo or outsmart others, but not the boss. Humans and
animals are alike; when they sense a threat, they put up all their
defenses and prepare to spring counter-attacks at the
appropriate moments. At meetings or in the public, avoid
posing difficult questions which you know the boss will not be
able to answer. Do not challenge his views openly and make him
look silly. Be modest about yourself. If word gets to the boss or
if he senses that you are more suited to sit in his chair, he may
stifle your promotion. Such bosses always feel insecure. Put all
your intellect into producing outstanding work, but in the
presence of your boss, let him think that you are not as clever
as he is.

Be explicit about your achievements

We mentioned about being modest, but that was about not
letting your boss or colleagues know exactly how clever or
smart you are. When it comes to achievements, be explicit, put
your name on every assignment or project. A boss who is not
smart and not sharp cannot read between the lines or take hints.
Unless you tell him what you have done, he may not realize the
extent of your contributions to the organization. It is always
good to remind the boss of the deals you have closed, the
profits you have added to the bottom line, the projects that are
successfully completed. When you rope in new clients, be sure
to introduce them to your boss. The clients feel a sense of
importance and the boss remembers it better than a mere
memo informing him about the new accounts. When you
receive praises and commendation letters pertaining to your
service, arrange for them to be circulated or copied to your
boss. In short, be visible and get noticed.

Help boss meet goals

One key task is to erode the boss's power over you. The best
way to do that is understand the boss's plans and help him meet
his goals. That's right, help him, not impede him. By doing that,
you gain his trust and confidence. In getting higher profile jobs
and major projects, you take away his dominant control over
you. He can do less harm knowing that your role is crucial in
enhancing his career.

Be patient

The more foolish the boss is, the more indispensable you
would be. The company needs you to get the job done and if you
play your cards right, the boss will want to keep you by his side.
He is only the front, you are the doer. Knowing that will
motivate you if you have sufficient patience. In a crisis
situation, the boss will have to come to you for help, and that
is when you can expect better rewards and enjoy a better
bargaining position. Be patient, learn as much as you can,
excel in your field of work and the day will come when you are
invaluable to the company.

Live and let live

No matter how good we are, there are others who are better.
The old wisdom applies - “Don't do unto others what you don't
want others to do unto you.” There is a tendency to let
everyone in the office know how you feel about your boss and
do things to spite him or make him look bad. Think how it would
be like should a brighter person come along and feel the same
way about you. A lot of relationship problems can be resolved
just by putting yourself in the shoes of the other party.

If you simply cannot resist throwing an insult, quote other people
instead e.g., Jamie Lee Curtis: “To call you stupid would be an
insult to stupid people. I've known sheep that could outwit you.
I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an
intellectual, don't you, ape?”

Related Articles:

Bosses who want their way
Autocrats, dictators, and dominant bosses
The Boss is Always Right
Boss's pet and Favoritism

Books worth reading:

In A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses:
Dealing With Bullies, Idiots, Back-stabbers, And
Other Managers from Hell Gini Graham Scott gives us useful
tips on how to handle a variety of difficult bosses. If you are
looking for something specifically on idiot bosses, Dr John
Hoover shares his experience in handling these difficult and
demanding bosses in How to Work for an Idiot:
Survive & Thrive-- Without Killing Your Boss.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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Jason X said...

Good advice, I like your blog. If you get a chance, check out mine. I guess I'm making similar points with satire and a fictional narrator.


Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of your blog. I ran across your site while searching for a wisdom quote for a birthday card I'm making. I'm a fan of blogs that talk about workplace dilemmas. Yours is easy to read and digest, and the wisdom you provide is inspirational. Thank you. I was wondering if you are ever open to suggestions from readers about fables/articles that they come across that would be intriguing to discuss?



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