In my last column, I wrote about the monster boss who considers his
employees as nothing more than assets to be used to climb the corporate
ladder. This column will consider another type of boss that is found in the
One of the seven wonders of the world is how large an ego can grow in
individuals who progress to senior management positions in a company. As
their salaries increase dramatically, their ability to be self-critical decreases by
the same proportion. They rarely talk with anyone at work who does not
outwardly agree with what they say or who questions any of their decisions.
This has an accumulative effect over time. If everyone agrees with whatever
these individuals say or do, they must be geniuses. An ego of someone who
considers himself only slightly below omniscience is a wonder to behold.
And every large company has its share.
A symptom of the omniscient manager is the practice that no decision can be
made in his area of responsibility except by him. For example, a manager at a
corporate headquarters that has hundreds of employees reporting to him does
not allow any personnel decisions to be made except by him. Even though he
may only see employees out at divisions once or maybe twice a year, only he,
through his incredible intellect and insight, is able to determine who should be
promoted or, worse, who should be fired.
The employees are rightly confused because there does not seem to be any
connection between performance and personnel decisions.
Every once in awhile there is a glimpse of what these omniscient managers
think of themselves. I was in a meeting where there was considerable
discussion on a particular topic. The senior manager at the meeting indicated
what action he wanted to be taken. Someone had the nerve to continue the
discussion. He was curtly cut off and told, "God has spoken and the
discussion is over." Until that meeting, I did not realize this individual went
home to Mount Olympus.
When you are godlike, you cannot lower yourself to the concerns of the
common man. A company I worked for once hired some consultants to see if
the company should outsource several departments. As expected, the morale
in the company was extremely low. The threat of many people losing their jobs
does not make work a pleasant experience.
One person from senior management commented to another that it would be
good when the consultants left. The second person questioned why that would
be. He could not see how the consultants' presence would affect any employee.
Ah yes, "Let them eat cake."
The monster and omniscient boss are two examples of what we should not be
when we manage people. In the next article I will talk about how we should
Adam Smith is obviously not the actual name of the author of this column. The real author has
worked for two Fortune 500 companies, one privately held company, and a public accounting
firm. His undergraduate degree was in accounting, and he earned an MBA for his graduate
degree. He also has completed coursework for a PhD. in finance. He continues to be employed
by one of the Fortune 500 companies.
The author grew up in the Washington D.C. area but also lived for several years in Arizona. He
currently resides with his family on the East Coast.
The author has held various callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.