Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One of my best bosses ever

I have to admit, I got this idea for the #CelebrateWomen blog carnival from Messiah Mom.  No, I don't read a lot of mommy blogs, but hers has enough Jesus in it to make it worth the read.

I spend a lot of time doing what probably seems like moping at best and misogynistic at worst when discussing the women in my life.  Let me remind you, this comes from a guy who nearly got slapped during a Women's Literature class.  Today, I decided to balance that out by talking about one of the best bosses I've ever had, and it was a woman.  Mrs. Dollie is the director of the SLU Rec Center where I worked for about a year, and she is definitely in the top five percentile of people who understand leadership, and the top half of a percentile for female bosses.  So, before i explain why I was so impressed with Mrs. Dollie, I have to explain my frustration with others, even if this does sound a little misogynistic :D.

A. Some female bosses feel the need to be everyone's mom.  This is nice when they're baking cookies for the office staff, but frustrating when they tell you not to work so many hours.  Being the boss, they're thinking about the bottom line and wouldn't pay you not to work, but being mom they'll tell you to go home (without pay, of course) if you look too tired, have had a long day, or are working long hours on two jobs.  Guys don't need to be told when to go home, we need to be encouraged in what we're going to do anyway.  Telling a man what he can or can't do is about as bad as telling the same thing to a woman.

B. Some female bosses feel the need to rectify every injustice against women in the workplace.  If you're a female employee, it might feel nice to be in a place where you're not harassed or berated by your boss, and even better if you see a male coworker going through something you've gone through.  It can be especially poignant if the guy never believed in gender inequality.  Well, certain bosses may not be able to do anything about the average woman getting paid 70% of the average man, but they're certainly not going to let the workplace be a pleasant environment for those men.  In fact, these women are going to take every opportunity to ensure the men under their charge are treated the same way they were treated as a female employee with a male boss.  The B**** boss is the polar opposite of the Mom boss, being completely inflexible with the men who work for her.

C. Some female bosses are just not good leaders.  This is true with male bosses as well, don't get me wrong.  Some people are just not cut out for leadership.  They may be highly skilled at their job, but not very skilled at leadership, which is a skill entirely independent from any job skill.  Some women just don't get it.  Even though the Mom boss and the B**** boss may be unpleasant bosses, at the end of the day they still get the job done.

So how was Mrs. Dollie different?

1. Communication - Mrs. Dollie always told you what she was thinking when you asked her.  Sometimes, she had to be tactful with it, but she always managed to communicate properly.  When I was about to lose my job due to budget cuts, she told me they had to look into things, but that we were probably going to be let go.  It hurt, but not as much as lying to me would have.

2. Decision-making - One day a thunderstorm came upon us and the sky went from sunny to black in about 15 minutes.  When I pointed out her office window at a girl whose umbrella turned inside out, Mrs. Dollie immediately picked up the phone and told the girl at the front desk everything she needed to know (see #1) about what to do if the power went out or we came under tornado warning.  Mrs. Dollie was able to make decisions and stick with them.  Some leaders don't make ever make a clear decision, so their followers are left in the dark as to what to do and where to go.

3. Respect - It seems so simple, but respect is extremely pivotal to the working equation.  Respect is bidirectional, and there's no way you can expect it from others if you don't give it yourself.  She knew I was working 12-hour nights with the National Guard that summer (sleeping some), then coming to the Rec for an 8-hour shift, but neither she nor anyone else ever told me to go home unless I asked.  She took it for granted that I was an adult and that I knew what I was doing, and if I needed help I'd ask for it.

Everything wasn't perfect at the Rec, not by any means, but they had and still have a good leader.  Mrs. Dollie's been with SLU for 15+ years and will probably be in charge of that Rec center until she retires (heck, she drew up the plans for it when it was built at the end of the last century).  I just hope I can be as good at being a leader as Mrs. Dollie was.


  1. Thanks for the shout out!

    I've had mostly female bosses, so my comparisons are lacking in sample size.

    I am not anyone's boss, but I do manage to juggle 75 students or so every semester. I don't coddle, I don't berate, and my rules are my rules. You didn't get the assignment in on time? I can sympathize, but you don't get the same grade as everyone else. You are missing class? That's too bad, get the notes from someone else, because I already taught it once.

    I dont know where that puts me on the scale, but it sounds like Mrs Dollie had her head on straight.

  2. Like you need a shout-out, you have a mommy blog! :-P

    I think you meant to say "mostly male bosses" unless you've just not had that many jobs, which is also possible.

    Your approach to teaching is comparable to most of the successful teachers I've met (male and female) but I think teachers are in a different category than supervisors; namely, the fact that the reward system is completely different.

    Thanks for stopping by, though!

  3. My best boss ever was a female, too and for many of the same reasons that you listed.