THE TOUGH GET GOING. AND NOT NECESSARILY OUT OF THE JOB! BOSS. MOSTLY, A TOUGH BOSS CAN GIVE YOU LESSONS THAT LAST FOR A LIFETIME
Tough bosses often invite unsavoury monikers like “Hitler‘ and other nicknames, but ask yourself this – under which boss did you learn the most? If you had to name the boss who made you go farthest to improve your skills and performance, would it be the one who went easy on you or the one who gave you nightmares?
Chances are, you‘ve reluctantly pointed towards the boss who never let you take it easy. The truth is, if you‘re great at your work and you‘re ambitious about moving ahead, you have everything to gain from a tough boss and very little to lose. Elango R, CHRO and head, emerging geographies business unit at Mphasis, agrees, “I love tough bosses. They bring creative tension, push the envelope and test boundaries. This helps the team explore hidden capabilities that might exist out of their comfort zones.” He, however, cautions, “Tough does not mean disrespectful or unreasonable; it means being firm, holding people accountable and not suffering fools gladly.”
Often, the perception of tough‘ lies in the mind of the employee rather than the behaviour of the boss.
“Leaders do set high standards for their employees and this may make a manager look like a tough manager; however, that may not be the case. It is up to an employee to understand the requirement and perform accordingly,” opines Rachna Mukherjee, chief HR, Schneider Electric India.
Ram Menon, founder and CEO, Avaamo, adds his two cents, “The word ‘leniency‘ brings forth images of school and your teacher. This is not about disciplining employees and being tough or lenient. It‘s about helping each employee to reach his/her maximum potential and having empathy for other human beings.”
However, bosses would do better to be tough in terms of the results they demand rather than the route employed to attain these results. Vimal Raj Abraham, head of branding and solutions marketing, Servion Global Solutions, points out, “Most of us like to be given the long rope. When employees are comfortable with the way their bosses are leading them, they tend to respect them more and work harder. This, in turn, leads to strong business results.” But he does agree that tough bosses are the ones who leave an impression, “When I look back at all my bosses, my favourites have been the ones who challenged me intellectually. They created an environment of mutual respect and faith. They were available, assertive and knew when to suggest a course correction. Managers need to be cautious that they don‘t cage their reportee‘s creativity and become a ringmaster.”
A ground rule to being tough is – be tough on the work produced, not on the persons themselves. Because that‘s when it starts to get toxic. “Why do people quit? While there may be hundreds of reasons, see people quitting ‘managers‘ more often than they quit ‘companies‘. When we end up having bad bosses who don‘t know the difference between being tough and just being dirty – we end up losing good talent. Bad managers cause billions of losses every year in the form of attrition!” warns Abraham. Being tough, according to him, “Is about drawing that firm line–being a little distant from your employees and making them feel accountable for the hours they spend in office every week.”
In conclusion, a tough boss isn‘t someone who‘s just out to make your life difficult. A tough boss, in the words of Mangesh Panditrao, CEO and founder, Shoptimize, “Is just someone who inspires you to go beyond your limits to achieve goals for the company.”