The boss came to the floor and started shouting at the leader. The customer had called him in the middle of the night and screamed at him for not keeping up the revised schedule of delivery.
This boss had no idea of what schedule we had missed. I said let’s go to the room and guided the boss.
Now we were in a closed room, I asked him ” I do not know what has gone wrong, I want to know who gave you the right to shout”. He stared at me and was searching for an answer, shocked, the question came from an unexpected source like me, who has never reacted such.
After a minute or so, he realised, nobody has a right to shout, only to take action for mistakes. He said softly ” sorry, I got a call from John saying in spite of an extension for a week, we have not delivered”. I took the phone from him and returned a call to John. When I asked him what was the issue, when we had nothing to deliver before the end of the month, he said ” Buddy, it was a call to our Indiana office, my mistake I called India”.
“In that case, please talk to my boss” and put the phone on speaker. ” Sorry mate…blah.. blah..blah..hahaha..”.
The boss was still in the shock of “who gave you the right..”, when I got up to go he gestured me to sit.
“My apologies for jumping the gun and it is the first time I have faced a question about the right to shout.
He said ” I have a problem with my temper, I go blind”.
” You can be angry when you see an error or injustice, you should not shout” , I said.
“Take appropriate action, pull the guy up, warn him, lecture him, penalize him, if required even dismiss him”.
“If correcting someone is accompanied by shouting, they will not improve. Only emotion remains not the message, you will leave a scar behind. When a father was insulted in front of his son by a boss, can you imagine the damages it could have caused. Shouting in front of team members is similar, they end up hating you”.
“Do not forget, your success is in your team’s hands”.
He asked me “you never get angry ?”.
I said ” of course, I get angry, my reaction is not visible. My first reaction is to ask myself is it my fault. Most of the time it may not be (that’s my right to conclude the way I want). There is a time delay in my reaction, which cools me down with the thought that it’s not my mistake or it is my mistake.
If it’s not my mistake, then the other person is talking crap , I keep saying in my mind crap, crap. If it’s my mistake, take the crap.
Either way the winner is the time delay. If you notice, when there is no time gap between action and reaction, the anger can be dangerous.” Anger is negative which causes harm to self and others.
Anger has valuable qualities and can be used in a beneficial way.
A moderate anger can help us in positive sense, to take some corrective action, immaterial whose fault it is.
During anger words travel faster than thoughts. Hence it is good to take a deep breath and speak.
All emotions have their time and place. It helps meet our goal. Certain levels of stress and anxiety push us to perform at a high level. Sadness is when we lose something while signaling to others we need help to heal. Anxiety can help in alertness.
Truth is not visible in a state of Anger.
I have never softened up a boss like I did that day. He was sitting in another building, we used to seldom meet. He confessed at the end of the day, though he had come for 5 minutes to set us on fire, why he was annoyed with me. He was in charge of many accounts as a vice president and every group in charge used to walk in and out of his room many times in a day and here I was meeting him once in month with our revenue figures. He felt ignored which his EGO could not accept. I made sure that the buck stopped with me and never escalated. He took my behaviour for arrogance.
I told him he is CEO material and he can be one with a change in attitude and behaviour.
After that day, he would come to my place once in a week and spend a lot of time with me and my team members. He liked the environment and the energy level. He gave me a certificate, ” you are a leader who do not manage”. I told him, “I love them, trust them and enable them “. They are the CEOs of their job and they know why they are doing it and the reach of the effect of what they are doing.
Within six months he left the company, to apply his learning in a new environment with new people.
Another occasion another boss, an appraisal meeting at 4 p.m., I am in time, sits on a sofa outside his room, he is busy with someone else. Half an hour, one hour, one and half.. the door opens and a fuming guy walks out. Two minutes later the boss follows, stops near me, please wait inside my room, I will visit the loo and come, he said.
He looked exhausted after an appraisal meeting with one of his reportee, I am sure in complete disagreement.
He came back after five minutes, drank a glass of water and said sorry you had to wait, phew, it was a marathon.
He said, your boss has given you very high Marks..
I interrupted , ” you will not be able to pass those marks, you have to rationalize since there are many others from different accounts, handling businesses of different sizes. Please do whatever you think is reasonable, I don’t envy your position ” and gave him a good laugh.
The trip to the loo, glass of water, all in preparation for another marathon had an unexpected ending, air out of a balloon experience for him.
He looked at me in disbelief, thank you, he said, you are very understanding. He did some calculations and said, ” after normalisation you will get..(I did not even bother to hear the number). He said, you are doing a terrific job, customer is very happy, come let us go for tea.
I got up and said, you should go home, you look very tired.
And walked away happy that I saved a man from collapsing.
Drawings by Chitra Gopalakrishnan