The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

May 30, 2012

Could Your Boss Win Re-Election?

By Jim Hessler

(This post accompanies our just-released podcast on the same subject, which you can listen to here.)

Unless you’ve been asleep for a year, you’re probably aware that 2012 is an election year—and a big one, since the Presidency is at stake.

But I’m not here to talk about politics. Instead I’d like to pose a question that arose as I was watching the news the other day.

What if your company, branch, or department held an election next week, asking you to vote on this proposition:

                Yes or no:   Your boss should be allowed to retain his/her job

I wonder how many bosses would win a straight up or down vote to retain their job?

And this brings up a second question:

Would an election even be a fair way to decide whether your boss keeps their job?

What criteria would, or should, employees use in casting their votes? Could they be trusted to vote based on the best interests of the organization?  To understand the nuances of their boss’ challenges and political environment? To comprehend how the numbers are trending, or to figure in the influence of the demands from their bosses?

Of course, a business isn’t a democracy.  But it’s an interesting question. A boss can be enormously popular and enormously ineffective.  Another boss might not be well-liked but still be an outstanding producer.

And then, what if we included other stakeholders in the voting? Customers? Vendors and suppliers? The Board, or the ownership team? How would their votes change the outcome?

I wouldn’t suggest handing out secret ballots next week and running your own underground election. Instead I encourage you to focus on the second italicized question above. How important is it for a boss to be popular among his or her constituents?

Could your boss get re-elected?  And how much does it matter?

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About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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