On the occasion of his being awarded a ‘long service citation, an employee made a touching speech in which he said, “In the last 25 years of my being with this organization, this is the first time I’ have come face with the Bada Saab. “This meeting brought him greater pleasure than the silver salver that the ‘Bada Saab’ handed over to him.
This alarming gab between the ‘Bada Saab’ and the ‘Chota motas’ does not seem to cause mush concern to most people. There are a few enlightened chief executives who are attempting to close this gap and make them at least more visible. If not accessible.
Chairman, MD’s and chief executives seem to move in a rarefied world of their own. Entertaining foreign visitors, off on trips abroad, locked up in board meetings – they have little or no time for the day-to-day management of the organization which they leave to their underlings. This may be understandable to some extent – they have other commitments too.
The danger however lies in the ‘underlings’ assuming an importance out of proportion to their position, and sometimes even believing that this responsibility is an opportunity to extend their personal influence and amass ‘power’.
Secure in the belief that the secret will never out, they interpret the Bada Saab’s instructions to suit their own purpose, often using his name get their own work done.
If we are to bid farewell to corporate feudalism – now increasingly discouraged by management experts who recognize the need for attitudinal changes in this contemporary world – and introduce a more democratic environment in organizations, the first step is to be taken by the big boss – outside his cabin.
Half an hour’s walk around the office will enable him to meet the people he is stewarding, while indicating to them that he is available and willing to know first-hand what their input is and what their problems are.
Like the rajas of our traditional stories, a chief must mingle with his people directly. There is no short cut to this via any kind of information channel. He must take time off to meet his
people down the line, listen to their professional problems, and assure them of his concern. This way, he not only gets a true picture of what’s happening in the office, but encourages accountability at every step.
Day-to-day interaction can warn the boss of impending problems between staffers; can help him, for instance, to recognize when the divining line between roles get blurred so that he can take corrective action in good time.
The boss’ direct involvement in turn will increase the commitment of his staff, while giving him opportunities to initiate good teamwork and a spirit of camaraderie between fellow workers. This will naturally lead to an increased output and production of better quality.
Unfortunately, most chiefs enjoy the lofty aloofness that the pedestal of their position offers them and not many care to step down. Their image becomes more important than the health of the organization.
A chief executive is like the piper of Hamelin. His juniors are bound to follow him, whatever tune he plays. This can only be achieved with direct and active interaction. It can’t be done from the confines of an ivory tower.