The Courage to Find the Right Boss

Blissful bed to sleep on, soft & sturdy shoes to stand on and a wonderful boss to work with. This blog is about finding the last one.

Karthik Rajan
Sep 4, 2019 · 4 min read
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In life, you have comfort choices.

From the bed we sleep to the shoes we stand on. Somewhere along the way, bosses are in the mix. They have a way of influencing our day.

The courage to find the right one is more about knowing ourselves better. I had an aha moment about this when I read the book, Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard, Laurence Hawkins and Susan Fowler.

The story goes like this. Steve was asked to conduct a survey in his office — an innocuously simple one. All he had to do was get people in his office to rank in order what motivates them. The choices were:

  1. Good wages

He thought he knew the answer, interesting work trumps all. He was surprised by the results.

What surprised him: different folks, different strokes. And the best aha — he was a boss for many of survey takers and he was a terrible mind reader.

And most bosses are.

The best way to find a great boss is to find the courage to know yourself better first.

Instead of generalities, here is my story. My approach to life — you live only once, make it a rich experience.

My experience of having no experience

The year was 2011. I wanted to gain exposure in sales and marketing. I had one big challenge — I had zilch sales experience. The best way to summarize my resume [until then] — pure analytical play.

I saw a job opening for the head of sales for the Texas region. I had networked with the national head of sales before then (my serendipity experience here). I reached out to him.

He promised only one thing — a seat at the table for an interview. After that, he made it clear that it all depended on how I fared with the veteran sales interview panelist.

Knowing what I know and driven to make the best of the opportunity, I embraced what I knew — solving puzzles. At my desk, it was quickly clear that I did not know a whole lot. I reached back to him and asked if I could talk to the person who recently vacated the job. She had moved on to a growth opportunity externally [that was on par with him]. I asked him if he could share her number. He looked at me for a moment, paused (seemed like a long pause) and then smiled. He gave me her number.

I called her and as luck would have it, she gave me a time slot to talk to her. During the call, I asked her what were the top three challenges in the job. She listed them and I prepared for the interview with those three as my inspiration for my puzzle.

When the dust settled and many months later, after I clinched the job, I came to know that I was the best candidate prepared for the job. My zero experience was a muted factor.

Many years hence, as I reflect back, one aha hit me. I thought I networked for a job, I actually networked for a boss who believed in my ability to solve problems and lead a large team — not on my functional experience.

The question is: how to find such bosses?

Small talk.

I don’t ask people what they do for a living. Instead, I ask what they enjoy doing, who they enjoyed working for and why.

Two magical transformations happen: the conversational vibe becomes positive and I became a collector of great boss names. One surprising thing is like food — many of them like the same people. The common words I have found for these great folks (bosses) — “believes in me” ,“trusts me” and many different shades of those 10 motivators.

When I see a spark with what motivates me — I jot down those names.

Bringing It All Together

Comfy shoes, blissful bed and great bosses. Life is about choices. Will my choice of motivators work for you? May be, may be not.

What is certain, we can all paint a generalized picture of the perfect boss. Deep within each of us, you know what you really want in a boss. The question is: do you have the courage to bubble it up and network for that boss?

Pen your thoughts in the comment section.

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Karthik Rajan

Written by

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Karthik Rajan

Written by

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

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