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Managerial Behavior - flaunting the power

Updated on June 10, 2013
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer. Backed by 3 decades of industrial experience, he writes on several aspects of business, management and HR.

When power is given, two basic human tendencies are difficult to resist: one to misuse the power and the other to flaunt it. When a boss occasionally misuses his power, he may get away with it; when the boss frequently misuses his power, he may get caught one day. But when he flaunts his power, he loses nothing imminently, except perhaps his respectability in the eyes of his subordinates.

A boss' power comes in several forms that include his power to hire and fire, to spend the organization's money within certain limits and at times beyond it, his clout and capacity to heavily influence the higher echelons of management, his political connections (if any), his capacity to influence police/ law enforcing agencies etc.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. | Source

A good boss makes use of whatever powers under his command for carrying out his duties and responsibilities to the organization. A good boss is one who is self-sure about his capacities and capabilities and by virtue of his efficiency in carrying out his duties and tasks, he commands respect from those who work under him. He does not feel the need to flaunt his power to his subordinates to prove his stature and position in the organization.

In contrary to it, what is it that makes a boss to flaunt his power in front of others, particularly to his sub-ordinates? There could be several causes for it and almost all of them can be traced to the inherent weaknesses that he wants to conceal. What are they?

Desire to show off

A boss who thinks that an occasional self-boasting or a demonstration of his powers is quite justified for having risen to such a prestigious level in the organization, with his dubious credentials.

This tendency to show off may get expressed in several ways:

- Calling subordinates to the cabin and firing them in front of visitors

- Ordering snacks over phone, taking the visitor to canteen and leaving a word at cash counter (for not paying immediately)

- Giving a free drop by office car to the visitor

Worry about loss of respect

A boss with limitations in managerial capabilities, self-confidence and intelligence resorts to flaunting his power with the intent to somehow garner respectability.

This may find expression through threatening: "If I leave a word with CEO, I am sure your firm will get the contract cancelled in no time. Don't ever take me lightly; CEO and myself are friends rigth from our school days".

Worry about smarter sub-ordinates

A boss who feels threatened by very smart subordinates working under him may feel his position shaky. So he flaunts his power with the hope that the smarter subordinates don't end up playing mischief against him.

Worry about exposure of misdeeds

A boss' nefarious activities done against the interests of the organization my have become known to some of his key subordinates and the subordinates may have made their objections known to the boss on such activities. To keep their mouths shut, the boss may flaunt his power to threaten them to silence.

Obviously, a truly good boss is one who does not fit into these situations and naturally, he won't have the need to flaunt his power.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      That is how it should be but unfortunately there more bad mannered bosses. Very well written hub.

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 7 years ago from Kerala, India

      Thank you, markbennis!

    • profile image

      markbennis 7 years ago

      This is a great article one that is important to understand and hopefully give some insight to those employers with a conscience.