I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Power"

I had lunch yesterday with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I told him about the things I’ve been doing at work since I took over my office and shared some of my accomplishments. My job is all about numbers, and that’s what will get me recognition and an eventual raise, but what I’m most proud of is the people and my part in spreading a little happiness.

My life changed dramatically when my boss came in on a Monday and died suddenly in the hallway. I abruptly became responsible for a lot of people and a whole lot of money. I told the ladies, “You know your jobs. I expect you to do them. Let me know how I can help.”

This was a radical change for them. It was also radically different when I told them I like to lead by consensus. They were used to the boss issuing orders they had to follow. If asked for their opinions, they stood a pretty fair chance of getting yelled at. I started having weekly meetings. They bring their coffee and laugh a lot. I added a guy, so we aren’t being sexist.

“I want to work in a happy office. If you’re happy, I’m happy.” In an office all about numbers, I don’t think anybody dared to hope for emotional support. Just do your job and shut up, you know?

One woman told me that before I took over, her desk was always neat. Now her desk is covered with paper all the time. I worried she was going to say I was pushing her too hard, but then she popped out with “I love it!” She broke out into the most beautiful smile and my heart did a little flip flop.

I like the people in the office. They go out of their way to say they like me too. This is a far cry from the last office where I worked where I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to have fights. I had 3 bosses, all making a point of subjugating everyone else. The company folded after I left. It deserved to fail.

I worked with one of those people at a previous job, decades before. He was overpaid, undertalented, and really great at making people at the top believe he deserved power and compensation. That company folded after I left too. Sometimes I wonder how it is that big bosses don’t look at the general misery of the workers and see it as a reflection of how well a person supervises.

Some people think that miserable workers show the strength of the supervisor, but it suppresses ideas. Maybe it’s because I’m an artist, but I think I see the overview of power. If the people in my office feel confident, happy, and constructive, they help me do more, and do more better than if I keep them all oppressed. They offer ideas and take initiative, and I like seeing other people’s creativity bloom.

And yeah, the numbers are holding up too, and I couldn’t have accomplished that without the help of everyone else in the office. It isn’t my success – it’s the success of everyone in the hive. We all made it happen, and they know it. They trust me because I trust them. That’s power.

13 comments:

  1. This is so true Linda, I think that a lot of people in leadership posts have a strange idea that if they create an atmosphere of fear that everyone will somehow work harder. This could not be further from the truth. Your workers must feel that they have started a new working life with you at the helm...well done, you deserve your success. I am really delighted for you ;0) Jane x

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  2. I'm really glad you shared more details about the dramatic work-related change you have mentioned briefly before this. I love your perspective on leading and power. More "power" to you!

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  3. Thanks! I'm at one of those times in life when I know I'm lucky to be working with these people, and I'm reminding myself often to to be grateful and thank them for all their help. Woouldn't the world be a better place if everyone could be so lucky?!

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  4. How many jobs I have had where I wished my boss would die in the hallway. That would be a dream come true.



    I like your illustration, too.

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  5. Josh, that is an unwholesome thought, funny though. :-)

    Linda, you are a wonderful boss. In a creative and happy environment more work is done and in a better way. People need some free space for jokes, for feelings and for creativity. It adds to their health and well being.

    Your illustration is a typically Linda Hensley; pretty and effective.

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  6. I don't think I was ever so specific as wishing a boss to die in the hallway. I might've had a few other thoughts along the way though -- but I'm not admitting to anything.

    We spend a lot of time at work. Why shouldn't it be a happy place? Here's to hoping more bosses get out of the old ideas of power. Thanks for the comments!

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  7. They say a good leader points to the mirror when things are going badly, and points to their staff when things are going well. And posts amazing stories when they're great like you. :)

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  8. Aw shucks Rand :) I count myself very lucky that the people in my office are really wonderful. Appreciating them is easy since they all know what they're doing and care about doing it well. I wish everyone could have that kind of workplace!

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  9. LOVED reading your post today! :)

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  10. I remember when all this happened not too long ago. You were overwhelmed and not sure of how things would flow. Well, look at you now!

    I'm happy for you and your team. You figured out what real power is and passed it along to them.

    Continued best wishes to all of you! If you have to go somewhere 5 days a week, it's a blessing when you are okay with being there.

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  11. Obviously they had the right intuition about you when they made you the new boss at your job although you only recently joined the staff. If I had a boss I wish it were you.

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  12. Aw thanks! My office is full of wonderful people, so I can't take all the credit for them. I just let them do what they do best, and that works for everybody. And yeah, if we have to go to work every day, why shouldn't it be a happy place?

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  13. Your attitude is admirable and actually the best way to lead a group of workers. The traditional boss who gives orders and impose power over his or her workers is only making them work less efficiently. Studies of business economic shows that working environments that are including, encourage workers, create excitement for the job and even spend money on welfare, are the companies that also makes most profit. No wonder some of your former workplaces went under. You are a great boss, Linda!

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