This article is written based on the actual experience of the writer in a long career spanning 35 years mostly in Indian MNCs.
The characteristics of the immediate superiors affects right from the junior level to CEO. At junior level immediate superior (Boss) should be understanding and should guide the subordinates who can be a trainee or assistant. Even well qualified subordinates like Engineers and MBAs require clear instructions and proper guidance initially. The employee must also take initiative irrespective of his position to grasp the things in his work area quickly and execute the task given to him or her.
The immediate superior, I will refer to him as the Boss in this write up from junior level to the position of the GM. I have basically gained experience in source development and supply chain management working with various organizations. My experience includes procurement, imports, exports and stores also. At the junior level I have come across very supportive bosses or superiors. Because of that I was able to complete all the projects or tasks assigned to me successfully to the satisfaction of my boss and in due time.
The instructions were very clear and whenever I approached them to clarify any doubts, the response from the superiors was good and they spent some time listening to me and gave solutions to any problem. This company was a MNC with Siemens, German collaboration manufacturing cables. It was named as Cable Corporation Of India Ltd., located in Bombay now Mumbai and wasleader in cables at that time. (Mid and late 1970s)
I changed my job to Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) manufacturing Diamond Core Drills and Water Well Drills. Here I came across a boss who was very quiet as in he interacted very less. He used to praise my work in my absence to colleagues in my department. He used to rarely give solutions or rewards. I had to learn from others and after some time I was successful in getting the job knowledge. But the higher management has recognized my efforts and promoted me to head the operations of materials at this unit located in Madh, Mumbai. I was promoted as head of the Materials Department when the line of production changed to switch gear. I had initially three people reporting to me and later on it increased to 23. The receipt stores and finished goods stores were also with me.
Fortunately, from here onwards I had the opportunity of reporting to the plant head or the CEO. The immediate superior was good and he was also the Head of the manufacturing plant producing Switch gear. This organization had a good policy to send each and everybody from the executive cadre for training and development and the immediate superiors had to spare the subordinate for the training period irrespective of work pressures. The training program was usually for 2 to 3 days and was mostly in behavioral sciences and switch gear technology.
I had to leave the organization due to domestic problems at Mumbai and joined Allwyn Nissan Ltd, Hyderabad as materials manager reporting to MD. This was a semi- government company and therefore the immediate superior had a limited role to play. I was the head of Department and had to look after a team of 12 staff members including two executives. There was limited scope of training and development of self or staff members by way of formal training programs. Therefore I had taken the task of developing my team members by ‘internal on the job training’.
The domestic problems got solved in Mumbai and Allwyn Nissan Limited was also not doing well. Century Enka Limited (CEL) management called me and offered me the post as Head of Department with the designation of Manager (Commercial). The company at that time was an MNC. Here again I was fortunate enough to report to the CEO of the company, the additional responsibility was imports. Here the guidance given was restricted to policy guide lines. The management here considered me as an expert in the supply chain management and imports. Therefore it was my responsibility to interact with superiors and advise them on policy matters depending upon the commercial activities and government rules and regulations. The point to stress here is that the management at the same time gave me full freedom and authority to work in my functional areas. I am using the word management more often because I had to spell out why I required this authority and my boss who was the CEO had to formally get it ratified from the Board.
From my corporate experience I have learnt that knowledgeable bosses are not common particularly those who have humanitarian considerations also.