“So, when things get tough, in your new role as a manager, the face of your old boss appears.” I repeated, confirming what Nathan had described. Nathan nodded, so I continued.
“Management skills are often passed down that way, for better or worse. Experience teaches, our parents teach, old bosses teach. It’s just that sometimes the lessons learned are not the right lessons. A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance and to turn around three times before lying down. (Credit to humorist Robert Benchley).
“So, what are the right lessons?” Nathan inquired.
“Well, we have the example of your worst boss. So, who was your best boss?”
Nathan had to think for quite a bit. I could see he was struggling. “Yes, I remember. I don’t know why I didn’t think of him. Mr. Johnston, that was his name.”
“And what were the qualities that made him such a good boss?”
“It’s funny, he never yelled, he never got upset, he was always calm. If I made a mistake, he helped me correct it. When I was about to do something stupid, he would stop me and make me think it over.”
“So, here is where we start,” I said. “We start by replacing your worst boss with Mr. Johnston. When you are faced with a management issue, and you begin to hear your worst boss in your mind, I want you to turn your head and think about Mr. Johnston watching you.”
Nathan smiled and nodded. “You mean, I need to kind of fake myself out.”
“Not at all. You already fake yourself out when you listen to your worst boss. I want you to listen to Mr. Johnston.”