Every weekend, when my dad happens to not work on that day; I would have breakfast with him. Having breakfast with him is a great way to catch up with him, and he will tell me about how things go at work.

Last week, my dad told me that in recent years; his company – a Japanese one – has changed leadership in the light of global economic slowdown. A colleague of his, who has worked for 2 decades in that company; was retrenched. This colleague of his is well known to be lazy and is often not present for meetings. He pointed out that he could be complacent because the company hasn’t retrenched any senior workers in the last 2 decades. This is a rather understandable development, because the company’s new leadership saw fit to retrench underperforming staffs so as to make the company more cost-efficient.

This taught me that there are people out there in the workplace who are complacent in this aspect, so being aware of it can perhaps help me to detect and deal with them in the workplace next time – be it as a colleague who wants to help his fellow colleague realize his folly, or as a superior who has to be quick to detect and rectify such tendencies.

Another thing my dad told me is that there are also people who are more senior than him, but are under his supervision. In one instance, when he was making sure if the more senior person is able to do a certain task; he readily answered yes. A few weeks later, the task was undone. My dad, out of respect for his seniority, did not reprimand him. Instead, he offered to teach him because it was apparent that his skills does not reflect the number of years he has spent in the company. The experienced guy was sour and angry at my dad for telling him what to do, going around to gossip behind his back – saying that my dad is bullying him, and is arrogant.

This one taught me a few lessons:

Firstly, people are not going to be happy if you are capable but relatively less senior than them. That’s understandable because I fell prey to the same tendency before: facing such a suggestive reality that I am incapable, I either rebel against it or seek to rationalize the situation. Usually the rationalization involves nasty conspiracy theories and assumptions that do the person little justice, and the tendency is that I will spread the tumors around to validate myself. I’m past that stage now, accepting that such a tendency is unbecoming can help me to avoid such a fruitless and evil attempt again.

Secondly, seniority does not equate to capability and experience. I find problem with this because seniority, as in longer time spent in the organization, should means that we are more skilled and experienced. If we are not, we ought to reflect on why that is so. Are we not doing the best we can in our work? Are we being allowed to slack off because of certain organizational inefficiency? If that is the case, it is time for change. We should always strive to do our best and learn as much as possible in our time in the organization. Doing so will spare us the whole junior-being-our-supervisor/manager scenario. Besides, if we don’t do our best, we cannot be proper leaders who have the been-there-done-that experience to guide our followers. Leaders are teachers too. So let’s keep that in mind, and do our best while we are followers.

Lastly, we must find our ways to communicate cordially to our followers if there are dissatisfaction with our leadership. This is what I’ve learnt also from the army. We must be on the ground to make sure things are going well – not just in terms of finishing the task or project, but also the opinions of us. We must constantly reach out to our followers, talking to them and bonding with them. If we don’t do so, we can become distant; and being distant creates wild assumptions and dissatisfaction. The team will ultimately become very ineffective if the level of dissatisfaction becomes too high and it’s simply just better for everyone if everyone is happy while working together.

In conclusion, great breakfast; and I realized that my dad is a pretty darn good leader in his workplace. He is my inspiration indeed 🙂

Signing off,

Jackson

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