I have been a solo operator for a long time. I started my company in late 2000 and have spent the last 15 years working for myself. This week, I am hiring my first full-time employee, which made me realize that things are gonna change.
There will be more responsibility along with lots of benefits.
But, more importantly, I wondered about the kind of boss I would I be?
It’s been a while since I had someone reporting directly to me.
I started thinking about all of then while watching a PBS documentary about Henry Ford. What a fascinating man he was. I alternated between admiring him and really disliking him.
Story after story illustrated that it was ‘Ford’s way or the highway.’ Once he physically tore apart a prototype vehicle that his team had put together while he was away. They thought that it was time to produce an alternative vehicle to the Model T. Ford apparently didn’t agree. So much for encouraging creativity.
Ford wanted ‘echo chambers” to work for him … “yes people” who wouldn’t challenge him. But those aren’t your best partners to get things accomplished.
Oh sure, it might be easier in some ways. You might be able to get things done faster – without all of the time devoted towards brainstorming and collaboration.
But disagreement is what is at the core of change – of viewing something in a different way because the underlying assumptions are challenged.
And I wondered, are there ways to discourage someone from challenging you in subtle ways? And I replied, I’m sure there are.
So, I will strive to be a boss who encourages my new employee to be a ‘boomerang.’ In other words, to go out and collect and absorb all kinds of information, observations and perspectives and bring them back to make suggestions and recommendations. Then we can discuss them and forge a better path together.