The other night I had dinner with some friends and as usual, work woes was a main part of the conversation. All but yours truly, are gainfully employed. In the middle of the heated discussion about alternatives to employment, I found a finger in my face. “Speak up, you are a boss, must be wonderful…” one asked with a glare. A quick gulp of water from the tall glass, I hastily choked up my standard answer ..” actually, I am the biggest coolie…”. Everyone had a disbelieving and yet somewhat relieved look on their face. I must confess, I thought that to be a rather clever answer which I had borrowed from an Indian gentleman, the owner of a chain of Indian restaurants near my office. Ever since I overheard him answering exactly that when he was greeted as “Boss” by one of his customers, I had borrowed it quiet shamelessly, I thought it to be such a cool answer.
You see, I carry the banner of boss-dom with as much pride as I do guilt. Everyone, assumes that just because you own a business, it must be all wonderful and dandy.They forget the 100,000 hours you had put in and the sore arms from delivering goods yourself. But I have to admit I love the freedom it gives me to be able to set up a company according to my whims and fancy. But as I explained to my fellow travellers of this planet, even as a boss I am accountable to someone – to my customers, to my staff, to my suppliers and the list goes on. You see, over the years from using it as a smarty pants answer, I have come to ponder that answer and the great wisdom that old man had imparted.
But what is accountability anyway? “Seriously,” my friends laughed. “Come on, you pay the salary and you give the business to your suppliers, sure to your paying customer, yes, but the rest?” ” But..” I argued. “I am still accountable in that I have to ensure payment and also quality check to make sure that they do their best in providing me with good service so that we can enjoy a prosperous business together”. “As a boss, to ensure that my staff have a continuous livelihood in a safe environment as much as they have to toe the line and comply with company rules and regulations which I had set. Any mishap and setback and even how they behave would be my failure. Although it is easy enough to point fingers and blame and scream at all the seeming “ingrates” who work for me. I can probably get away with it many times as my staff who get paid by me are so “grateful” they will probably take it, but I certainly can’t get away from my own conscience too many times. And then, of course there is the law, social norms and basic humanity which are all forms of governance and a reminder of accountability.
So I guess, irregardless of where we are, what position we hold, as a King, Prime Minister, as a salaried worker, a volunteer and even as just a hermit, we are all accountable in one way to another. Even if we live alone in a cave, we are accountable to the cave we live in since it is providing a venue of protection. But far from it for me to discuss the sad decay of accountability of the public office of late in our country and go back to my humble entrepreneurship journey and mind myself instead. But I guess, if I were to give some thought, its really no difference in the end. We each have to watch and mind our own actions and manners, self governance is of utmost importance in whichever office that we sit in. Even in the toilet we have accountability to keep it clean and if everyone deems it that way, we may just have cleaner public toilets. Maybe. Failure is not exclusive to the CEO, office clerk or sweeper, at least, not if one prides oneself of some form of basic human intelligence.
So, maybe what the old man meant was, he has to work harder not just to make the big bucks and be chauffeur driven in his BMW 5 series, he has to work a lot harder to earn the provide and respect of his workers and also his customers. At teh end of the day, he is accountable to his own conscience most of all.
Pix credit: www.kbconcepts.com, www.6ssatnist.com