Living and working in a hierarchy can shape your attention to the world. We all need to be fascinated less by power inside our organisations. We need to be fascinated more by customers and the community outside the organisation.
A common piece of advice in large organisations is expressed this way:
‘What interests my boss, fascinates me.’
The advice highlights that your boss often has a major role in perceptions of your performance and career opportunities. The suggestion is that the path of success is to be ever more conscientious on what matters to your boss. Managing their interests will deliver rewards from their greater hierarchical power.
Except that is terrible advice in almost all circumstances:
- your boss does not determine real value: value is determined by the network of customers and the community
- your boss does not determine change: change is driven by collaboration across silos internally and decisions of customers and community externally
- unless you are great at working aloud, your boss rarely has your better context of what is going on in your role and lacks your networks
- many bosses are reactive worrying about the last big issue or the last thing their boss mentioned
- many bosses are fickle changing their mind on what matters -some even in your performance appraisal
- the most enduring factor in your performance and careers is the outcomes you deliver not to what or to whom you paid attention.
- ‘But you told us to…’ never saves anyone
Being fascinated by every whim of your boss might build a great relationship between you two. (Warning: It might be counterproductive too) However, it will not drive real business performance.
So next time someone asks you to worry about what your boss thinks, don’t. Look outside the organisation in your networks to find what matters. Make your mantra:
‘What interests my customers and community, fascinates me’
Your boss is just one voice in your network and probably the least valuable one.