From Egyptian Pharaohs to Modern Management – The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Good leadership makes “feeling at peace with work” so much easier. A leader who is sincerely interested in the people who comprise her team, rather than viewing them as vehicles to accomplish goals, can create a productive working environment and a fully engaged workforce.
The artists of ancient Egypt depicted the Pharaohs as perfect human beings with chiseled muscular bodies and beautiful facial features. In contrast, the commoners were drawn with physical flaws such as potbellies and double chins. It reminds me of my corporate career when I was responsible for producing the company annual report. I would bring in a make-up artist, rig special lighting, and have the graphic design department touch-up the photo of the CEO, while the frontline employees were shown with all their human imperfections.
What makes us desire physical perfection in our leaders? And think about the lengths we go to in order to perpetuate the myth! Observe how the presidential candidates are frequently photographed jogging. Just like the 21st century general consensus – that our government leaders should be physically fit – the pharaohs’ needed to demonstrate their physical prowess by fighting bulls. And a poor performance led to a loss of confidence by the masses. Ramses, who lived for 99 years, ran an early version of an exchange program. After conquering a nation, he brought the children of the defeated rulers to Egypt and treated them royally so they would feel affection for Egypt, cementing his rule. Then as now, smart leaders need a strategy to reach goals but also an understanding of how to win the hearts and minds of the people.
Good leadership makes “feeling at peace with work” so much easier. A leader who is sincerely interested in the people who comprise her team, rather than viewing them as vehicles to accomplish goals, can create a productive working environment and a fully engaged workforce. Unfortunately this is not what most of us experience at our workplace…so how do we deal with the disconnect? First, we have to realize we can’t change, correct, or control the boss – “It is what it is.”
What we can do is change our attitude about the boss. If you spend time lamenting that she doesn’t deserve the position, whining about how unfair it is, and focusing on her faults, you will simply make things worse. This negativity pre-empts the opportunity to have a peaceful working relationship with your boss.
Your best strategy is an age-old piece of advice: try walking a mile in her shoes. Try to understand where she is coming from, what motivates her, and why she is the way she is. See her for the human being that she is and have empathy. This will help break down the barriers between the two of you and the relationship should improve. If you can shift your attitude to this more productive place, you will have more peace in your life at work. I guarantee it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After a highly successful career in business, including 26 years with PotashCorp where she was Senior Vice-President, Betty-Ann retired in 2007, the same year that she was named to Canada‘s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame™. She now works as a speaker, author and mentor and is committed to using her personal and professional experiences to inspire and empower other women. A firm believer in the value women bring to organizations, Betty-Ann explores changing perceptions of male and female roles including candid observations about what she calls "Good Gender Physics” on her blog at www.stillettochick.com. She helps both men and women understand the primary energy of their gender but also accept and appreciate the strengths of their opposite.