Monday, December 12, 2011

What's the Proper Role of a Subordinate?

I read  "Confidence Men" by Ron Suskind.  He criticizes Larry Summers (or quotes sources criticizing him) for "relitigating" issues rather than saluting smartly and going off to see the president's previous decision was promptly implemented. It's part of a general theory that Obama was inexperienced as a manager, not well served by Emanuel and other staff with more experience, and not comfortable with some of the issues.

Of course, in my experience, not in the White House but in the South Building, it's usually the case that the subordinate knows more than the boss; that's the result of bureaucratic specialization. And what we know, or think we know, often ties to strong emotions: most people like to be right. It's also the case the boss never knows everything the subordinate is doing, or has to do. And sometimes it's the case the boss doesn't know what has to be done to implement a decision.   Put everything together and it's quite possible for boss and subordinate to have different views on what happens after a meeting when a decision is made.

No comments: