Who’s the Boss?

I am.  There are two directors but they both happen to be away now.  One will be returning in August, the other in September.  So in the office now, I am what they call here “the big boss” or what you might think of as the acting director.  And to be honest…it’s great. Maybe its just because this week I’ve felt like I’ve hit a groove at work but its not the craziness I had feared.

Even when my bosses are in the office I am still responsible for supervising the six staff that we have.  It’s my first time being a boss (officially) but I’d like to think that I’m growing into a stern-when-its-needed, culturally sensitive, caring boss. I don’t know exactly what my philosophy on what a boss should be is exactly, or what my leadership style is but the process of forming the former and discovering the latter is one I enjoy.

I love the people that I work with.  Of all the people I’ve met here I like them most and I spend the most time with them so its hard to think that there has to be that distance between a boss and subordinates.  This week the distance has been spelled out a little more clearly to me by the staff.

I told one of the staff members that I heard he didn’t go to the waterfalls on Monday because there weren’t any girls going.  When I protested that because I was there there was a girl there he responded, “You are not a girl, you are my boss.”  Later on that day I joked with the GM that I had learned from another staff member he was seeing someone. Finding girlfriends for the two unmarried guys in the office is something that often comes up but there was never any time where he said he didn’t need one.  Anyway, he told me that he didn’t tell me because it’s the kind of thing you tell your friends, not your boss.  That stung a little because he is one of the staff I felt closer to because he’s a manager and seems closest like a peer in the office.

Its an interesting imbalance, too, between what I am to them and what they are to me.  They are my language tutors, who I call when I need help, my only Lao friends, the source of nearly all I know about Lao people’s ambitions and challenges, the people I enjoy most and would like to know better.  To them, I am their boss.  I guess to be fair, even if they don’t think of it that way I do help them with their English, and when they have questions about different things I help them problem solve, and I teach them a lot of new things, too.

I am certain that the next two years will be marked by professional growth for me in becoming a more effective and thoughtful leader.  But I hope that at the end I  get 6 brothers, too.

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