Speak to any middle level manager and the changes are good that he will tell you how his wonderful ideas are always turned down by his boss. Probability of this is far greater if you are speaking to technical person like a project manager or an accounting person. He will also give you a pretty good (apparently) explanation why the latest plan of his boss that they are already working on is going to be a disaster. He will convince you that it is he who is the genius with very little authority and his boss is an idiot with all the authority.
I am sure since you do not know the boss you will not try and contradict this self styled genius. That is what happens most of the times. Suppose you did, the conversation could be something like this:
Him: xxx xxxx Blah Blah Blah
You: It sounds like your boss is an absolute idiot.
Him: Absolutely. He is.
You: I wonder who made him boss then.
Him: I know …
You: What do you know? I am asking you, who made him the boss.
Him: Probably himself. He made himself the boss.
You: You mean not his ability, talent, knowledge or experience, but just he himself made himself a boss?
Him: Looks like.
(By now the guy is pissed off with you already. But he is pretending to be a good guy by still continuing the conversation.)
You: With what authority did he make himself a boss and who gave him this authority?
Him: How should I know all this?
(There is a small pause. You are probably giving him some breathing time)
You: So it looks like you are saying the only different thing that he did was appointing you?
You: Yes since you are saying everything he does is wrong and I am sure you would say appointing you was a right thing that he did for himself.
Him: I am not saying thaaaaat …. But….. yes somehow.
You: No be clear about what you say. You are saying that everything he does is wrong and only appointing you was right.
(Half of his steam is already out. Do not give up now.)
Him: No I am not saying everything he does is wrong, but many of the things he does are wrong.
You: You are retracting.
Him: No I am not. I never said everything he does was wrong.
You: Now you are making it sound so normal. It is just human to do a few things wrong. Why did you say you boss was an idiot then? I am sure even you don't do everything right. You would be an angel then.
Him: No I am not claiming everything I do was right, I make mistakes sometimes.
You: Five minutes back you were telling me that your boss was an idiot and everything he did was wrong and now you are telling me that you are very much like him. What do you want me conclude?
Him: I don't want to talk about this.
The above was a purely a hypothetical situation and we won't normally be in such a situation in real life. The reason is when others are portraying their bosses as idiots we would derive pleasure out of it without realizing that we would be in their position too. The funniest part is that these employees are themselves on the path of becoming idiots and are striving hard to get there as soon as they can.
I agree that not all bosses are alike, however in most of the cases it is the employees who are not even capable of understanding the bosses. I have never heard a boss saying his all his employees are idiots and he runs the show all alone. Have you?
Why this difference? Why do employees feel that their boss who is in a better position, with more experience and often with more skills and knowledge is an idiot while the boss would seldom feel the same for his employees?
In my opinion there are a few reasons. Employees do not think they need the boss, they just need the job. To acknowledge a leader one needs to have some leadership qualities himself. Since these employees are not mature leaders (yet) they do not understand the importance of the leader. On the other hand the boss knows very well that he needs to delegate the authority and well as the work to get it done. He knows he needs his people and his existing employees are more valuable to him that anybody else.
In the above hypothetical conversation I have also attempted to depict that the employee is confused when confronted. This is also very normal. If we put a leader in such a situation, there are very little chances that he will react that way. The reason is that leaders have clear "Teachable Point Of View" (TPOV). If a leader says his employee is an idiot he most likely have a pretty good explanation for that that he would be able to present as a convincing story. On the other hand generally employees in lower position lack the clarity and do not have a well defined point of view. They have a blurred idea. They think there boss is somewhere near 5 on a scale of ten, when they like they will portray him as idiot and when they like they will portray him as a genius.
Being somewhere near 5 does not apply to judging their boss alone. It applies to every second opinion that they have. Hand them a survey form and they will tick the option in the middle for every question. On the other hand, hand over the same form to your boss, he will choose the extremes. His assessment is very clear.
I have made an attempt to write this post in a different way as you must have realized above. Please leave a comment on the writing style.