At some point, the garbage can in the kitchen fills up. Unless someone takes it out, it starts to smell. We’ve all been there – a significant other asks us to take out the garbage and so we lug the smelly bag to the trash can or dumpster or incinerator chute (for you apartment livers). Not a pleasant task but one I’m pretty sure nearly all of us do on a regular basis. I don’t think any of us think “it’s not my job” or “I’m too good to be doing this.” Something is starting to smell so we handle it.
I wonder, therefore, why that attitude doesn’t translate over into some managers’ thinking when they get to the office. I’m always surprised when I hear tales of closed doors or having to make an appointment weeks in advance to see one’s supervisor. I’ve also seen executives who won’t call their travel department, type their own memoranda, or get their own dry-cleaning. They insist that their assistant does it. These would be the first people to complain if their kids were snubbed in an autograph line by a truly famous person but who don’t understand that they are guilty of the same thing on a daily basis by snubbing their own employees.
“Don’t you know who I think I am?”
These are the folks who confuse who they are with what they do. The reality is that those of us who were privileged enough to have supervised others had our positions defined by those folks. We were there to help them accomplish the broader tasks of the business. Sure, providing them with sound strategy and reasonable resources was part of it, but it also meant being available, supportive, inspirational, and honest.
If you’re too damn important to take out the garbage, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to manage others. You’ll be more of a detriment than an asset.