Career in Development Sector
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Decoding the Boss

Everyone of us, in one way or the other, is familiar with ‘Boss’.What image does a Boss carry in our psyche, consciously or subconsciously?

Is the Boss of your definition a dragon with blowing fire, bald-headed person with horns, the famous Dracula or the ever-advising saint?Let us leave it to our imagination for a moment to have an icon for Boss.

The ‘Boss’ draws power and accumulates influence owing to three primarily practical modes.

  1. She/He can have positive or negative influence on your job or salary
  2. Having richness in knowledge and skills (so that you have a chance to learn the tricks of the trade)
  3. The positive attitude and behavior

The first one seems to be the most effective. If the same is coupled with the other two, it is great. But otherwise also the Boss has enough to cast the spell.

Let us have a small story to understand it better. Once there was a bird seller who used to sell parrots. Shouting loudly ‘Here comes… buy these amazing birds; these pretty parrots!’ `

  • How much for the bird,’ a gentleman asked the bird seller, showing his hand to a parrot labelled as `1’?

  • "One Thousand Dollars, only sir,’ said the bird seller, with much conviction.

  • "One Thousand Dollars is lot of money. What is so special about this parrot,’ asked the gentleman curiously.

  • "This parrot can write lyrics for plot; romantic or tragic,’ said the bird seller proudly.

  • Pleasantly surprised the gentleman enquired about the next parrot labelled ‘2’.

  • `This parrot can compose music for any lyric and it costs just Two Thousand Dollars,’ the bird seller replied.

  • Impressed with both the parrots, the gentleman wanted to know the extra ordinary quality of the third parrot which was not labelled.

  • `This parrot takes cherry tomato for breakfast, pineapple for lunch and raw peas with green chilly for dinner. It likes music and watches lifestyle programmes on television. It costs Ten Thousand Dollars,’ said the bird seller.

  • “That is ok. But what does it do,” asked the gentleman with a tone of frustration? “She is the Boss of other two,” explained the bird seller with a very professional metallic voice.

If the Boss by virtue of the position can influence your job, salary and other remuneration, She/he is the most powerful Boss even if it is the third parrot.The second type of Boss is the one who is knowledgeable and you see a mentor in the person. They are quite sustainable Boss and they deserve the respects even after the employment.The third one is a Boss who is quite a good human being, empathetic and kind. If someone is having all three attributes then you have got an excellent Boss.If your Boss does not have the first and second qualities and only have the one, you are working with an innocent, tooth-less and nail-less Boss, who is otherwise a nice person. Now you think of an icon. Let us focus on some of the interesting characters of a Boss. We have tried to give them names.

A Boss is expected to provide a ‘bridge and wall’ effect. S/he should be a bridge with the senior management to put forward the concern of the team and individuals in the team. When required s/he should also defend the team members from undue pressure from the peers and seniors.

Many Bosses provide a cocooning effect to the team, whereby they isolate the team from the external and internal forces to a certain degree. Sometime this proves to be quite productive especially if a team of young professionals is being managed by an experienced professional. But most of the time it is not effective in the long term and makes the capability vulnerable to changes.

It was a late evening meeting. One of my colleagues came from the project kick-off meeting with an unhappy face and started scribbling on a yellow slip, then passed it to me. The slip was read:

Step-1:Boss is right;
If Boss is right




Go to Step-1;


This may look funny but on a serious note somebody at a senior level has a greater responsibility of driving the organization who also needs an institutional structure.

It is also important to note that whether an institutional decision is right or wrong in a given context is not an absolute one. In the meantime, you have all the freedom to rediscover those qualities in your Boss.

About The Author


Kedar Dash

Kedar Dash is the Managing Director of Indev Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. For the past two decades, he has been pioneering and paving pathways for utilizing ICTs to address development challenges. He is a prolific leader and writer, with a vision of bringing social equity by leveraging contemporary digital technologies. His extensive canvass of engagement across South-asia, Africa and Europe includes renowned sector leaders including World Bank, UNDP, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), and Asian Development Bank, Development Alternatives (DA) and Oneworld South Asia.

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