I fondly remember watching television programs like “Father Knows Best” “Dennis the Menace” “Leave It to Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet.” On those shows, the entire family would wake in the morning and show up for breakfast, the men with coats and ties. The women in beautiful dresses, high heels, and pearls. She hands each family member their lunch and sends them off for the day. The husband gets a peck on the cheek, and the kids get a loving hug. After they leave she tidies up and vacuums the entire home, all while still wearing her dress, high heels, and pearls. These simpler times remind me of the song “Time to Get Ready for Love” by Jack Jones.
Fred wakes up every morning to a fresh cup of coffee, delivered by his beautiful wife whom he has been married to for 25 years. They have a wonderful home in the suburbs and two adoring children who attend a prestigious private school. He drives a nice car, is a member of the country club, and has two dogs & two cats roaming around the yard.
Does Fred live the idyllic life described as “The American Dream” that I mentioned above? Or does Fred earn his keep individually or does he primarily exist by exploiting the skills of others?
Fred leisurely arrives at his office each morning around nine. His assistant arrives promptly at eight; she makes his coffee, organizes his office and checks & sorts the mail. She goes through Fred’s emails and puts them in order of importance. She types his correspondence and is very skilled at paraphrasing Fred’s replies. For emails that Fred writes himself, she always checks his spelling, punctuation, and word meanings, to help him achieve greater clarity. She has worked for Fred for a long time and can communicate more factually and eloquently than Fred himself. She is truly the backbone of his business and why it has been a success. Without her, his entire system would break down. Without her, Fred could not take his daily 2-hour lunches with his buddies or golf every Friday afternoon with his clients.
Any rational business person would acknowledge the reality that his assistant is the backbone of the “Fred organization”, and that her boss has questionable marginal value. Fred lives in a man’s world where the illusion still exists that he possesses the business value and superiority no matter what performance level and competence he supplies.
Why would anyone even bring up such a frightening thought to suggest that the boss is not worthy? Fred may live in an illusion of days gone by.
The question is whether Fred is worthy? My first, second and third blush is that he is not. Otherwise, there would be no question. As Ayn Rand stated in her book, Why Businessmen Need Philosophy. The businessman is always guilty until proven innocent. Fred is guilty of incompetence, just like many others in his position. A concept called ‘The Peter Principle’ can characterize Fred. The principal promotes the tendency for individuals to rise through organizational hierarchies, such as the corporation that Fred works for until they reach a level of incompetence. Fred is protected by the security of a huge bureaucracy, which advances employees from time spent rather than results.
Does Fred possess the knowledge, experience, valued relationships, and business acumen to add value to the organization or is he merely a protected parasite?
Fred’s assistant possesses 90% of the competence for his job activities and performance. Why, does she not inform her superiors about her overall skills and inform them she is the main contributor to the value of his job performance and success?
Does Fred recognize his assistant’s high value and performance? Does he show his appreciation by giving her respect and dignity? Does he make her feel like a contributor to his success? Or is Fred so self-absorbed that he only recognizes his own value no matter how superficial?
Do you know a Fred or two? Is your boss, associate, partner, or co-worker a Fred type? Do you occasionally express an appreciation to those around you that contribute to your success and let them know that you appreciate their contribution?
I wrote this as a response to a very bright young lady of 78 years old who suggested that her boss rarely showed his appreciation. Of course, Fred is a fictional character.
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I intend this article for educational purposes only and is not a solicitation.