Caring about the boss LO18672

Rol Fessenden (
Sat, 18 Jul 1998 23:16:10 -0400

Replying to LO18658 --

Brock asks a great question about whether one can work for a boss they
don't trust. He describes what I would characterize as unethical behavior
by a boss.

Let me draw a distinction that may be worthwhile here. I try to
distinguish between trust and integrity. To me, there is an element of
paternalism in the word trust. I cringe when I hear a subordinate say
they trust me. I think they mean they trust me to look out for them.
Well, of course, to some extent I do, but that is not my job. I also feel
they are abdicating to me responsibilities they should be taking on for
themselves. So in my view, "trust" means "you will take care of me."

On the other hand "integrity" is different. If someone has integrity, it
means that they operate according to values that are clear, consistent, to
some extent appealing, and of course, predictable. For example, I have a
value that my first priority is to take care of my organization, and to
the best of my ability within that, to care for my subordinates. So,
frankly, I put a heavy emphasis on performance, and if people perform
well, I will work tirelessly in their behalf. But of course, I will not
do so if they do not perform. Some people don't llike me for this, but
they understand me because I am very clear.

So with this distinction -- which may be totally my own -- between trust
and integrity, I think one can see a part answer to Brock's question. If
someone has integrity, then you are clear about what is expected of you,
and you can work hard for the person even if you don't particularly like
him or her. If the person does not have integrity -- which was true in
Brock's case -- then one cannot really work hard for that person.


Rol Fessenden

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