Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who's the Boss?

My boss is leaving today, after ten years at our company.

Ten years in advertising is like eighty years anywhere else. Really...there should be a parade.

Her departure has me thinking about bosses I have known through the years.

Early in my career I had the good fortune of working for a true sociopath. His field of expertise was international development -- more specifically, complex emergencies.

He was a brilliant economist, a genius at logistics, a masterful historian and someone who should absolutely not have been trusted with the care and feeding of other human beings. We used to take bets about when, not if, he would actually have a heart attack or stroke in the office.

I worked under his leadership -- except for a few stints abroad -- for nearly eight years.

But here's the thing.

While he was a red-faced firecracker, he had the good sense to surround himself with people who had softer skills. People like my mentor, Nancy G.

Nancy honed her diplomatic skills literally at the feet of the creator of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.

She ran the marketing department at the aid agency with the perfect balance of control and autonomy. She didn't demand respect, she earned it. To this day, I seek her counsel. S

he's one of my "slipper" friends -- someone who I see a couple of times a year, and it's as comfortable as slipping into an old pair of shoes.

Because of her, I came to appreciate, respect and even like the executive director.

Who would have thought?