I assume that at every stage of your life or career one will have a Boss; Not having a Boss is non-negotiable option. Well, sometimes in your life, you may have the option of selecting your Boss and that is the situation I am going to talk about. This is an official context please.
As a young lieutenant when I joined my first unit, I was pre-warned about my future Boss, a senior Major who are supposed to be fitness freak but more than that, his favourite drill was to get the chair in the office removed when the young officer was ushered in, so that young officer keeps on standing throughout the conversation while Major sahib sits comfortable as a Boss. The conversation goes for hours together, obviously if there is any disagreement then the discussion goes on and goes on, till agreement arrives in. Well, I sustained for one year, took the team to various competitions and created a good name for unit, commander and myself in that sequence. While all this was happening, there was an emergency at my home and Major Sahib did not agree for the leave. In my perception it was done deliberately so at the first possible opportunity I opted for the posting.
Lesson is very clear; people don’t mind a hard task master as a Boss but they don’t want to sustain a Boss who does not look after their motive or interest. People require motivation and primary source of motivation is your Boss who should understand the drivers.
Let us come to corporate context, people do get the opportunities to move within the organization and outside the organization. Everybody looks for upward mobility! What type of Boss one should look for? A Boss, who is easy going, probably reached to the position with good connections and now taking the life easy. If he is not driving himself, he is not going to drive you as well. Well, we all are human beings and each one has many internal drives to work and produce results, however we require external drives as well specially during some critical stages when internal drive is not pronounced or not good enough to cross the thresh hold level.
Hard taskmaster will ensure that subordinate crosses all these critical stages with the flying colours and consistency in the performance is maintained. Easy Boss will be smooth in the short run and life will be smooth but returns will be very poor in the medium to long term. Hard taskmaster will ensure that one learns critical skills, don’t fall into complacency zone, develop into good professional and acquire good growth trajectory. I would refer to Inverted U model of Robert Yerkes and John Dodson (1908), hard task master will ensure that one is always kept on the sweet spot where he can perform at optimum level with optimum pressure, neither less nor more. This sweet spot for each individual will be at different level and hard task master will ensure that he don’t pull the strings too harsh.
Should one opt for hard task master? Yes indeed! You can do the benchmarking for your entire life and you will be mentally prepared for the hard times. Rest assured, once you are prepared for hard times, hard times will never come, they get scared.
There is a pit fall. One has to differentiate between hard taskmaster and bad Boss. If hard taskmaster as a Boss is a man of high character, transparency and ethical conduct than one should consider himself very lucky and should take the total advantage of such a Boss, however, if such a hard task master is neither helpful, nor understands internal drives of subordinate and basically into pseudo transformational mode, then such Boss should be avoided without ascribing any reason on the first possible opportunity.
Each one has the right to run his own destiny.