Have you ever had a sentence from stranger's conversation stray into your ear and leave you with more information about him than you really wanted?
I was in the dairy section of a local supermarket yesterday afternoon, giving myself frostbite while trying to find the milk carton with the best "sell by" date (they load the cartons from the back, see, so the newest ones aren't within easy reach), when I heard a man behind me say to whomever he was with:
"Of course you want your subordinates to do well, but...not better than you."
I turned around quickly to see who'd said that. There were two men walking past, but neither of them was speaking now, so I couldn't match a face to the voice. And I really wanted to. I wanted to imprint that face on my brain so that I could draw a picture of it from memory later. Or maybe if I'd been a little more on the ball (and didn't have hands numb with cold) whip out my camera and take a photo of him. Or at the very least ask him where he worked, so I could make sure no one I cared about ever applied for a job there.
He hadn't said it sarcastically. He had been absolutely serious. Almost off-hand, as if this were something everyone knew.
Is it? Really? Am I that naive?
I hope not.
I've trained people, but I've never been solely responsible for someone's supervision. I'd like to think, though, that if ever I am someone's supervisor and they go on to better things, I‘d be proud. Like a parent. I don‘t think I‘d be upset.
Why would you? Why would you need to keep the people under you under you?
I've spent the past day or so turning that round in my head, wondering what sort of petty, selfish person would feel the need to guard against a subordinate's success. As if one person's success must come at the expense of another’s, because there's only so much of it to go around, y'see. I wonder if this man is the sort that lifts a good idea out of someone's memo to him and claims it as his own.
Doesn't being the person/department that hires, trains, and ultimately produces really good people who go on to become great at whatever-it-is say more about you than if you appear to be some sort of go-getter with a bitter, unhappy staff that knows they're being kept down?
I’m glad he’s not my boss. And I’m very glad my doesn’t boss think that way.
Or does she?