Working for a living is a sucker's game, and I pity anyone who didn't have the good sense to be born independently wealthy. But the fact remains that at some point most of us will have a boss. And not one of those New Age bosses like "your heart" or "the universe," but an actual man or woman who will sit at a desk nicer than yours and, eight out of 10 times, be a complete prick.
That's probably why so many people fantasize about their dream boss, who typically comes in one of two varieties: 1) the completely oblivious simpleton who lets his staff get away with murder because he doesn't know any better and 2) the super nice boss who would never dream of yelling or asking you to break a sweat in the performance of your duties.
"Hey dude. If it's not too much bother, when you're done with Minesweeper can you show me how to work the copier again? Thanks, buddy."
But I have to tell you, whether you've just entered the job market or are struggling in this awful economy, those are not the bosses you want. You want a boss who is super smart, super good at the job and super demanding. You want a boss who is much better at your job than you. A boss who will notice every single mistake you make and call you out on it. A boss who is so impressive that his or her abilities will fill you with self-doubt. Why? Well, I could explain that thoroughly in a conversational-style essay, or I could put it in list form so those of you reading this on a smartphone while defecating can jump around and miss points between wipes. Hmm, what's that, Internet? Ah. List it is!
Here are the five reasons you want a super demanding and competent boss:
They Don't Hide Information Due to Insecurity
Here's a lesson I've learned. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a political administration, an investment company or a corner store bodega -- most people obtain and increase their power by controlling information. Those who rise to the top often are not the smartest or best, but the most intent on acquiring an unfair advantage. They covet information. They hide details, no matter how small.
"No one shall know the secret of what condiment Mr. Penske prefers on his sandwich!"
In my life I've met no shortage of people who make a calculation before divulging any and all information. I have a word for these people: weak, pathetic, shameless, scared assholes. Is that more than a word? Sorry. Odds are at least half the people reading this column fall into this category. You know you're not actually smarter or better than your peers, and you need every advantage to succeed. If that means coveting some bit of data you've gathered to create the false appearance of being smarter, you'll do it. You don't believe in a meritocracy, where talent is rewarded, because you know you're really not that talented. Personally, I find living in such a way utterly exhausting and embarrassing, but it really does seem to be the norm. And those of you who don't play these games could well suffer because of it.
Even worse, so often these scared, game-playing pricks end up becoming the boss one day. After all, knowing the limits of their talents and living in fear of those who can call them out on it makes them desperate to be the boss. That way they can't get fired. But even when these crafty fuckers make it to the big time, they're still not content. All that fear and paranoia now get directed below. They hide information from their own employees. After all, if they expose their subordinates to the same information they have, they might get shown up. Outshone from below. If they were content to hide data from their peers, do you think they'd have any problem withholding facts from underlings like you? You don't even have a corner office with a pretty ficus plant.
I don't know why this popped up when I searched "ficus plant," but there are decent odds your boss has one of these in his office, too.
So they keep those details about the client secret. Or they fail to disclose how the other pieces of the machine fit with the part you're working on so they can watch you spin your wheels in a vacuum, polishing your little section just before they sweep in and explain why your tiny efforts could never fit into a larger whole.