Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boss - Not Just a Hierarchical Senior

I've been working for more than seven years now. And I interned for a couple of months before I began working. Have been thinking about the role that a boss plays for sometime now. The boss I had at my current workplace left some months back. I was relatively new to the field of public policies as had moved from the journalism field. The lady was instrumental in making me understand the basics by giving tasks that would give me an understanding of things. And soon enough, she recognized my strengths and I enjoyed being proactively involved at work. But then she left and although I continue to work and be proactive, I selfishly wish she were still there.

This is the current scenario, but walking back to where I started, it was at a newspaper with one of the largest publications in Mumbai, India. An intern who was still in school and worked during the summer break, L has been the best boss one could ask for. On the very first day of my internship, she told me to tag along with a fellow reporter and I did that for the next day too. By the third day, I began going out on my own for stories. She was receptive to me getting my own story angles and also told me if covering a particular event or running a story would make sense. She pointed out where I needed to improve, and at the same time gave me the freedom to find newsworthy things happening in the city, getting contacts, etc.

Still in my first week as an intern, I covered a tricky story and to my surprise, it was the cover story the next day! By being herself, L taught sincerity, paying attention to details, and finding about stories that people will like to read. Most of all, seeing her passion for work - it instilled in me one of the biggest things I really value - loving the work I do. Some of my classmates and people from my college eventually worked under her and have had the same opinion of L. It has been great to work with her.

Another boss I had in Mumbai, at a different publication was very frank. I used to be intimidated of this person for quite some time. More than a year and a half after I joined that publication, I needed to take leave for some a couple months to go home in Baroda. I was not sure whether this leave would be granted and understandably enough, questions would be asked. It was not something that one does regularly. I told this boss that I needed this break and that would work from home, edit stories from home and help close the issue on time. The boss just asked me one question. "Why do you want to go home?". Before talking to this person, I had been in doldrums as to what to say. I told the boss the truth and the reason for the break. Without thinking for a minute, this person let me go. That day I learnt another thing. A boss will be willing to understand your point of view if you are genuine. To date, am intermittently in touch with this boss and it's always nice chatting with the person.

I've been blessed to have great bosses, that have let my creative juices flow and let me explore different ways to approach a situation. And there have been times when I've seen that bosses sometimes can't guide their team efficiently and don't take responsibility as a team leader. Or there are those who make their subordinates wary of them.
Knock on wood, I've enjoyed going to work everyday in all these years of my professional life. This blog is for L, A, J, V and all the great people I've worked with!