Monday, 30 June 2014

Book Review- Championing the Bosses

If I remember correctly it was in the year 1998. The karnataka chapter of NIPM (National Institute of Personnel Management) had invited its members to an evening meeting in Bangalore, the main agenda being the release of the book "Management parables" written by Mr Moid Siddiqui a practicing HRDian who was then working as GM (Personnel) in HMT Ltd.

It was a pleasant evening. The chief guest presiding over the ceremony and the author spoke, followed by the formal release of the book. At the venue during break, the fresh new book was displayed and was available for sale. My colleague & I picked up a book each. Two days later I was traveling on official work from Bangalore to Mysore. As the journey time was a solid 3 hours, I was carrying with me the newly purchased book to keep myself occupied during the journey.

I casually started reading the book but soon became engrossed in it. Here was a book as its name suggested, relating to us true tales from the corporate scenario in a simple free flowing language with a lot of learning. The book for me was for me a breath of fresh air with no complicated management jargons or charts. Before I realized it, I had almost completed reading the book as the train reached Mysore.
The book I was referring in the previous para was Moid siddiqui's second book. The book I am reviewing in this post is his 15th book. The author has subsequently written many more .To date he has written 25 books mainly on management, with around 6 on spirituality. But why am I recalling an earlier book while reviewing "Championing the Bosses"? It is because this book has a lot in common in terms of style, tone & tenor with the parables book that I had like so much! In other words "Championing the bosses” is filled with a lot of experience sharing- of incidents & anecdotes from the work life of the distinguished author spanning over 3 decades.
In the book, the author has described 14 types of bosses. He has given a detailed description for identifying each type and tips as to how to associate with each of them for attaining the maximum benefit & sustaining the minimum damage. Interestingly, he has also given tips to the bosses (e.g. the Stone Age boss or the paranoid boss) as to how they can come out of their limitations& become more effective. This approach of the author, Moid siddiqui is heartening & refreshing in the sense, the aim of the exercise is not merely to criticize & condemn but to guide both the bosses and the reportees to desirable and enabling behaviour.

In order to give a taste of the quality & power of Mr siddiqui's descriptions, I am quoting below his take on the 'Heroic' bosses:-
“The prime characteristic of a heroic boss is ‘Urge for visibility' coupled with ‘Over confidence'. A big 'I' is his identity. The pronoun 'We' does not find any place in his vocabulary. Heroic boss has a big ego and is highly ambitious. His urge for visibility is so high that he becomes myopic & fails to make a distinction between praise & appeasement. He over counts himself & under counts others. Heroic bosses are disaster hunters. They feel uncomfortable if there is no crisis. If the crisis is not there, they would create one, as crisis management gives them visibility. They are team destructors.”

For dealing with such types, the author has suggested technique of 'creative aggression'-The heroic manager is like an unguarded missile. We need to look at ways for harnessing their energy creatively so that instead of harming, it becomes beneficial for organizational needs. The other technique suggested is 'supportive confrontation'- confront his 'egotism' and support his intellectual impulses' and ‘energy'. The description is supplemented by many incidents& tales from thework situation.  

The other bosses discussed are busy bosses, paranoid bosses who are always suspicious & trust none, chocolate cream bosses who do not want to displease any one, stone age bosses who centralize power, narcissistic bosses who hunger for praise, crooked bosses, micromanaging bosses & its opposite abdicating bosses, Gotcha bosses who are happy catching you do something wrong, Mohammad Tuglaq Bosses who are ahead of their times, Baba yoga bosses who are patriarchal using the command & control approach and the last two which exhibit positive qualities namely Pygmalion bosses(caring & loving yet keeping the bar of achievement high) and achievers somewhat in the mold of Maslow's self-actualizers.
What makes the discussion insightful, entertaining yet enlightening are the live stories drawn from the experience of the author. On completing the book the one thought that comes to mind is “if only I had this book to guide me a little earlier in my career, dealing with bosses & being a boss oneself could have been so much easier.” I enjoyed reading all the chapters, maybe some a little more than the others given the kind of situations I myself encountered in my career.
The chapter on Baba yoga bosses had new information in the form of sharing a Russian fairy tale of a cannibal witch, Baba Yoga who treated her subordinates with an iron hand cruelly & without respect and yet managed to get their absolute obedience until she met her match in the heroine of the tale, Vasilisa imprisoned by the witch with the aim of eating her for supper. But before she returned, Vasilisa politely and with respect requested the servants of the witch to help her escape & they did because they experienced for the first time courteous behaviour- “I let her pass for she was polite to me. I served you for ten years, Baba Yoga, but you never gave me any love or affection” The Baba yoga of the Russian tale characterizes a typical patriarchal boss who gives precedence to self-interest and self-esteem over the company’s objectives. The reign of fear & phobia snuffs out creativity, ingenuity and intuitive reflexes. Needless to say that there was a lot of learning in this chapter. Yet, after completing the chapter, there was a feeling for me of something missing…. I examined the reason for this and finally came to the conclusion. This chapter did not have a single tale or experience sharing from the author.
I conclude this review reiterating the observation that in “Championing the Bosses” published by Prism books, a wealth of learning is assured for the reader who can also enjoy the free flowing lines, anecdotes & incidents drawn from real life!



  1. Excellent review that has provided a bird's eyeview of the book "Championing the Bosses". Different strokes for different folks - this adage is so important while dealing with the bosses. Thanks for sharing this brilliant write, Rajeev.

  2. Thank you Padmaja! Happy to note that you liked the review.