Below is a common sentiment among young employees who enter the workplace:
“I just started a new job. My basketball buddy, who happens to head another department, overheard my boss say that he needs to get rid of me because I make my boss look stupid during meetings. The complacency of my boss makes him do sloppy work, which I try to correct. Unfortunately, my boss does not like this. I try my best to make my boss look good, but to no avail. He has started to exclude me from meetings, and when I create my own programs they end up as trash. I like my job, but I can’t work for my boss.”
With its inherent perks, there are legitimate reasons why bosses are threatened by employees more intelligent and educated than they are, and feel threatened while on the job. It does not matter whether it is a small business or a large multinational corporation. Workplace politics can overshadow the day-to-day duties of workers involved, and there are critical reasons why bosses feel the heat.
First, even if the boss may be respected in his or her field, the lack of academic or intellectual capacity to back up credentials may be an issue. Maybe the boss was simply promoted through outright luck or other arbitrary circumstance. Soon, their weakness may be noticed and exploited by ambitious and intelligent subordinates.
Many people avoid politics altogether, but others seem to thrive in it. For a professional to succeed, they must often play the political game, where academic credentials are just as important as the ability to influence. Highly intelligent employees who learn to play politics are more likely to achieve the status, prestige, and positions they want. This makes the boss want to keep an eye on the underlings, for it could cost their job.
The true measure of leadership is influence. You may be able to grant someone a position, but you cannot grant leadership unless the person has earned influence. In most organizations, as you are promoted, you find that there is added responsibility, but limited authority. That’s why I think that one must simply aim to do his or her best instead of aiming for the top position.
One of the best things you can do is to ask what is expected of you in the organization. This establishes trust with your superiors. Insecure leaders are ego-centric. Work hard to break the chain of insecurity, because it must not spread to others.
When all else fails, get out of the kitchen! It’s not worth all the stress. If you’re really good, you will find an organization that will truly treasure your contributions.