Who Is the Boss of You?

I keep seeing this funny commercial on tv: You’re not the boss of me.

If you have ever been a small child or related to a small child, you may have heard, “You’re not the boss of me!” When I heard that, it was often in a high-pitched voice, on the verge of tears.

As a parent, I wanted to say, “Yes, I am the boss of you!” Luckily, I knew that responding that way would have infuriated the small child. Not my goal. It wasn’t true, either. We are each the boss of ourselves. We have the ultimate control over our actions and reactions. Even the small children in my life knew that.

I do find the concept interesting. Who are our bosses?

Many people refer to their spouses as their “other half,” “better half,” or “the boss.” I find that curious.

I suspect people use that boss word as shorthand for many possibilities. In my house, we each take separate responsibilities. For years, Mark was in charge of the personal calendar because of my travel schedule. I take responsibility for thank you notes for gifts. I wrote thank you notes forever.

Mark filled out kid-forms. (If you send your child to school or camp, there are forms and forms and forms…) When you have kids in school or camp, the forms go on forever.

We split other responsibilities because of our preferences or abilities. Mark does all the car stuff, oil changes, tire changes, everything. I used to do all the grocery shopping. No longer. Grocery shopping irritates my vertigo. I can do a bag’s worth of shopping, not the weekly shop. Mark now does the big grocery shopping. I help with the list.

I don’t think of him as the boss of the grocery shopping or the car stuff. He doesn’t think of me as the boss of the thank you notes or the lists. (We are both list people, so we like our lists.)

Yes, we often have managers at work. I have clients. Are those people the bosses of us, as in they can tell us what to do?

In a sense, yes. Great bosses say, “These are the results we want. Do you have the tools and knowledge to deliver those results?” You can have a conversation with them.

Bad managers say, “Here’s how I want you to do that work.” If people control your actions—or try to—they are trying to be the “boss of you.”

I was never so good at respecting title-based authority, so I never really thought of my managers as “bosses of me.” I think of my clients as collaborators. I suspect many people have bosses who do like to exercise their “control” or authority.

Do you have people who want to control your actions? Are they really the boss of you?

Who is the boss of me? Me. If you are not your own boss, who is?

And, my dear adaptable readers, that is the question this week: Who is the boss of you?

2 thoughts on “Who Is the Boss of You?

  1. Ale Feltes

    Hi Johanna, it’s been a while :)
    I agree with you 100%.
    You obey bad bosses because you have to; you collaborate with great bosses (customer, chairman, manager, significant other :), etc.) to build something together, last but not least: you follow leaders by choice.

    1. johanna Post author

      Hi Ale, I love that three-level look at “bosses.” Thank you!

      And, I appreciate you for working with me to resolve the commenting issue. I had no idea.

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