King for a day

Feb 28 2006 by René Da Costa Print This Article

Rightly or wrongly most of us aspire to be something or someone else - certain that we would do a much better job.

Maybe I hang with the wrong crowd, but I've yet to meet anyone who aspires to being a better poor person or more efficient in a lower graded, less well paid job. Most of our aspirations are focussed on an upward trajectory and with just a tinge of green around the eyes.

How often have you heard a manager recount their latest vision and thought, 'they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about?' Perhaps, on the long walk home, after yet another frustrating day, you smugly relive your clever putdown of yet another pointless management edict.

Yep, you made them 'look the fools they are,' but I wonder if this if this a victory or a lost opportunity?

Happily for most of us, our belief in our own ingenuity and absolute powers of persuasion are never tarnished by reality. Knowing that I will never ascend to the top jobs allows me absolute freedom in believing what I would do and how people would respond to my brilliant ideas.

We've all been there; a colleague who tells us what we are doing wrong and how they would do it better! Somehow, we never quite managed to win the argument even though we knew we were right - well, not until we found ourselves in the bar after hours and thought of all those clever things we should have said. Given another opportunity we will show them what we are really made of!

We've all been there; a colleague who tells us what we are doing wrong and how they would do it better!
While we are enjoying our imagined victories our intended victim has no idea that we are even upset - they are too busy pondering their own future. Their boss had told them earlier today that to be considered for promotion, they must show more authority with colleagues and they want to see an immediate change, or else!

The chains of delusion are long ones. You know your team leader is incompetent, while they are equally convinced that bad managerial decision-making is to blame for departmental friction. Of course, their manager thinks that the Managing Director has no people skills and is making the job untenable.

I knew it; it's the MD's fault? Hold on though, I just heard her privately bemoan the fierce pressure she is receiving from the Board. They are demanding immediate and unpleasant action because their handicaps are beginning to suffer from the repeated calls from angry shareholders.

Our belief in the incompetence or insensitivity of others has less to do with reality and more to do with our perception of it. It is easy to take a negative view of the actions and attitudes of those around, above and below us because that absolves us of blame and the need to examine the veracity of what we think and do.

Whilst as individuals we can me more charitable in our belief of the good intentions of colleagues and managers the real call to action is to those at the top of our organisations. If you want your organisation to operate in understanding and harmony then individuals must be trusted to understand the problems of colleagues and managers.

Something as simple as a "King for a day" programme where we either shadow or assume the role of a colleague or a manager allows insight into why things are done. Too often we are left at the footsteps of what must be done and from that position it is not too surprising that we suspect that we have been kicked because the dog barked.

The 'what syndrome' is the biggest cause of office malcontent and yet it only requires a little courage and confidence to fix. Courage shown by our leaders the courage to show their failings and the confidence of the workforce they need to be able to believe in our best intentions, even if when we get it wrong.

Think back to your childhood, when your screams echoed throughout the toy store because you weren't allowed that new Action Man or Barbie. No one really blamed you at the time; you were just too young to understand the constraints of an unhealthy bank balance.

As adults, we understand the compromises that must be made to balance the bank account and we don't resent it - sure, we don't like it but we do understand it. For most of us, we understand not because we listened to the advice offered by our parent's on financial prudence but because we learnt the hard way.

Once I discovered some financial truths, I had a new respect for my parents' that no amount of speeches could have afforded me and our relationship only benefited as a consequence. I know that mine is not an isolated case.

It is a simple life-lesson and if you are over 25, one I am certain you have already learnt; to have true understanding we must have first-hand experience. With first-hand experience we are better able to appreciate what we have and can do well.

Equally, we learn to become more tolerant of the restraints placed upon others to meet our personal wishes and better still we are more inclined to offer help than criticism.

Isn't that a Kingdom you'd like to run?


About The Author

René Da Costa
René Da Costa

René Da Costa is an author and consultant.