Romeo was fresh from his B school when he joined the renowned retail MNC. He was all excited and felt how cool it would be to work at the corporate office of this giant retail organization. After the first couple of days of induction, his boss Shri assigned him to build content for the sales folks of the apparels section. Romeo used all the power point skills he had mastered, to build the first draft. When he confidently presented it to his boss after one week, Shri turned it down completely!! Shri just asked him one question “Did you visit the stores?” and the answer was no. There were details just around the varieties of apparels, sizes, costs and nothing more.
Shri asked Romeo to work on the content through the day and asked him to spend two hours over and above in the chain of stores during the evening. Romeo was frustrated as his days were longer while the other trainees who joined along with him were enjoying their evenings. Every time he went for a review, his boss was quite tough on him and asked him a question for which he definitely did not have an answer. Shri was known for being difficult to work with for his high standards of delivery as well as for the high retention in his team. People in his team liked him a lot and never voluntarily left for other opportunities. Shri had special learning curriculums designed for his team, the news hour section as well as a fun hour every week. Romeo wondered how his team was putting up with Shri’s strict schedule. Despite of being very senior, Shri always ensured that he had the management trainees in his team report directly to him for the first six months so they have direct access to him as well as they get mentored by him for the first few months. While not discussing work, Shri was extremely easy to interact with, expressed care and one would never feel that he was the boss of the team. Romeo started developing a love hate relationship with Shri as he was very strict as well as was friendly and caring.
Over the next few weeks Romeo gained a deeper understanding of a number of aspects which he would have otherwise never got about the retail industry. He understood a lot about the store designs, foot falls, customer mindsets, sales people’s behaviors and a lot more. Few months later when he presented the final version with recommendations to impact sales to the leadership, he got a huge round of applause and there in the corner, he saw the glittering eyes of his boss Shri. That evening he thanked Shri because he realized that he would not have learnt so much and the outcome would not even have reached anywhere close to where he ended with without all the drill. Shri said “I consider it as a duty to ensure my team members dirty their hands, develop thorough understanding of the subject and get prepared to handle a rough weather anytime during the sail. That’s the reason for being tough”.
Years later, Romeo was a senior executive in a large retail firm when he travelled with me in a flight as a co passenger. He recalled his first boss even after many years and felt a sense of deep gratitude for him.
On the same evening I was listening to a wonderful speech of Gaur Gopal Das. One of the aspects he was mentioning was around how a giraffe mom treats her new born calf.
What is so different about a giraffe mom? We might expect any mom to cuddle her new born baby but a giraffe mom stands right above the new born and gives him a super hard kick. The new born, who is already trying to wonder where he is after the busy birth process gets taken aback by this kick and tries to get up and stand. Just in a few minutes when he learns to stand he gets another hard kick from his mom and he instantly learns to walk. Just after few hours of coming on to the earth, he is almost similar to a one week old giraffe with an ability to run. Once he starts walking, the mom gently embraces him and kisses him for all the hardships that he has gone through! A giraffe mom behaves this way with her new born because she wants him to know to protect himself from the wild animals even while she is away. So it becomes a need for the calf to learn to stand up, walk and run while a lion or tiger approaches him. The only way he can get prepared immediately after his birth is by getting those hard kicks from his mom!
I couldn’t resist but to draw a parallel to the corporate world. Similar to giraffe moms, there are giraffe bosses in the industry. Romeo had one. So how can you identify them? These bosses are characterized by the following.
· They are tough in a good sense and they challenge you
· They have high standards which in turn acts as an eminence agent for you within and outside the organization
· They prepare you to deal with the very many years that you will end up spending in corporate
· They are compassionate and they genuinely care for you
· They stand up for you when you are in difficulty
· They celebrate your successes
· They keep the team together
· They are leaders and they develop the leader in you.
“True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders” – Tom Peters
I have had the fortune of working with few giraffe bosses and have a compelling bond with each one of them. All of them are great leaders in their own ways. Do you have a giraffe boss or have you worked with one? How did he/ she impact your career and shift your perspectives?
Orignal Post : Linkedin
About Janani Prakaash
Janani Prakaash is a HR professional with an Engineering background. She likes to call herself a “Mentor, Mother & Musician”. She is passionate about sharing her experiences through her articles. She writes on personal mastery, self-development, spirituality and corporate lessons.