Bosses come in a surprising variety of shapes: The slave-driver, the screamer, the weirdo, the one who never gives anyone any credit, the manipulator … and guess what?
After some time, you become sick of being miserable for eight hours a day, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can’t take it anymore and the next thing you know, you decide to start working for yourself.
I have to agree, bosses can be ‘a pain’ most times. For instance, I have heard of a guy whose wife unexpectedly went into labor three weeks early. He called his office and explained to his boss that he would not be able to make it in for a few days. He was fired for “a lack of commitment to the job.”
Then there was a partner in a big law firm who gave a young associate four boxes full of paper – probably 1000 pages in all – and said it had to be organized and indexed . . . in two days. When the associate showed up two days later … confused, exhausted and holding an understandably incomplete index, the boss said, “Good job. I was just testing you.” Can you imagine how he must have felt?
Now, putting aside the very unusual situations, some bosses are actually really nice. Some of them just have horrible people skills. But, like Captain Jack Sparrow once said: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
In the few years I have spent in the working environment, I have learnt a few useful life lessons from my bosses despite their other ‘not-so-good sides’. The biggest lesson I have learnt is – having passion for what I do.
There is a boss who used to tell me: “… Do not do tasks just because I asked you to do them and am going to pay you. Enjoy what you do, develop your skills; develop your network. This is an opportunity to better you in so many ways.” I listened to his advice and good things started happening.
I approached different people in Kampala, asking them some of the things that they have learnt from their bosses. Some couldn’t find good things to say, however, there are some people who actually gave me some good feedback;
Andy, (not real name) worked for a TV station as a technician.
When I asked him any good lessons he learnt from his boss, this is what he mentioned:
“I definitely learnt to be hardworking. My boss always showed commitment and never left a problem unsolved. He would stay in office even after working hours and he would be available even when off duty. One time he had to come back to work after he had left.
He was very strict and wanted things to be done the way they should be done, but then again, he was very encouraging and educative in a sense of giving guidance. I was once told to be creative and try out new things as I do my work, and not be afraid. One time, he even encouraged me to go back to school for an upgrade.”
Jozan, (not real name) worked for a organization in the UK. The biggest lesson he learnt was: “Don’t get friendly with any relations to your boss. They have two different sides.”
Nelson, a salesman, told me he has learnt a couple of lessons from his bosses. “I have learnt to do ‘follow up’, developing relationships, and applying professionalism in my job.”
Fay, has worked for three companies. The first one was an events company. Fay said the boss was very daring. He saw opportunities where the rest wouldn’t. He always had ideas and wouldn’t stop till he had seen them in reality.
The second company she worked for was a tour and travel company. She said the boss valued his staff. He believed in quality not quantity as far as the number of staff was concerned. He handled and treated his staff like co-owners and consequently, the employees would give their best. He would also go out of his way and provide them with incentives.
The other company Fay worked for was a media company. The boss was very resilient and passionate. He was gifted with ideas and was very hardworking as well.
Joe, (not real name) has worked for mainly banks as an IT expert. When I asked him about this topic, he mentioned that he has noticed traits about his bosses that are not genetic but rather developed through attitude, habit and discipline.
Some of the traits include; passionate curiosity, reliability and simple mindset. During his presentations to different bosses, he realized that bosses want almost the same thing. When you present to them, be concise, get to the point and make it simple. He added that he couldn’t recall how many times he had been told to ignore the PowerPoint presentation and just ‘cut to the chase.’
He also learnt to be fearless. Most of his bosses were comfortable being uncomfortable. They liked situations where there was no road-map, and would take as many risks as possible but never gave up on their ideas.
Joe also learnt to have an unending urge to learn. Learn as much as you can, understand the people around you – why they do what they do, what works for them, what doesn’t work … among so many other things.
, worked for PRAU. It is an umbrella organization for all PR companies in Uganda. He learnt good work ethics – how to go about specific tasks, jobs and arising problems. He also learnt to network with various people in different walks of life and business. The other thing he learnt from his boss was being open to advice and knowledge provided by collegues and be a good team player.
The last person who ‘indirectly’ contributed to this topic was the lovely Flavia Tumusiime (TV and Radio personality). She was once advised by her boss to do more, stand out and be memorable. Later she shared that lesson with her fans on social media. This is what she wrote;
“Food for thought, are you playing it safe at work and stay in a corner and just do your job nothing more, nothing less and expect that results will change? It’s the people with that extra skill and extra zeal that make it further than their eyes see. It’s important to ask yourself, how can I be better than I was yesterday? What do I bring to my workplace that sets me apart from the many? So, work at it, be memorable!”
As we conclude, no matter how annoying, scaring, disgusting, intolerable your boss is; make it a point to learn a thing or two from him/her. Be positive and you will not regret it.