Call it flattery, boss management, or smooth social skills - fact is if you are not in the good books of your boss, you'll lose promotions, get smaller raises and inferior ratings.
Sharing an article on how to flatter your boss which discusses practical ideas on maintaining good terms with the boss. I am not saying only flattery will carry you to the top but only hard work would also not do so. You need to give results AND you need to be in good terms with the boss.
Feedback welcome!

From India, Delhi
Dear Bodhisutra,
Pleasure Greetings!!!
I am very sorry, but i dont agree on your article posted.
Boss is not an individual who is known just because he is a boss, but he recognizes by only the output of his team work.
He is a driver who only manages the work flow...BUT the team is the one which gives him result..
My logic is very clear..Boss always want an individual who work smarter and harder....who can take him to the level of success, who can make his desires true...
SO, if we work with all conviction, hard work, and without geting involved into any counter arguement, one will always be needed by the immediate seniors and BOSS
We should always focus into the completion of work in right time, right productivity and right attitude being in an organization, and not into flattering.
I apologies if it hurts But i believe into that only.
Thanks, Shilpi

From India, Bangalore
Dear Shilpi,

Please do not apologize :)

Disagreement is good and it only helps bring different viewpoints out in the open.

I agree with you that completion of work on time and productivity are important. Not just that, one also needs to achieve results as tasked by the boss.

However, in an ideal world, if the boss were a machine, he would be able to evaluate everyone only on the basis of their work and results. However, bosses are humans too and like every human, the subjective side also affects the decision making (We tend to like some people and not like others and we tend to rate those we like higher than those we do not).

That's the whole point.

Of course, we all want the world where only work counts and not my personal equation with my boss. But, and the veterans here might correct me, almost everywhere, personal equation becomes almost as the work output.

Also, there are proper researches which prove that a person's ability to maintain good relationship with his boss has a relation with his career growth measured in terms of salaries (some of these are quoted in the article, if you want, I can provide some more links here) - would be an interesting read.

May be we can have a poll where people with years of experience can share their view - whether it is only your work that counts or your ability to be in the boss' good books is significant too!!

From India, Delhi
Dear Bodhisutra,

I see your posts as training professional. Trainers supposed to put forth the values in front of others. Far from it what you are saying is to dilute those values. Your post has surprised me completely!

If you look at America, it has grown because of research in various subjects and also free criticism. Those who eschew criticism have never grown, we the Indians no exception.

By flattery you can get a promotion or two but is this the end of your career? If someone want to take up the route of entrepreneurship, can that flatterer succeed as entrepreneur?

Please remember, "power bereft of reason falls under its own weight". When fall happens, it is far greater fall. Today you recommend flattery to get promotion. In this way, your boss's expectations will rise. Tomorrow he will start asking something from your family members as well. Then will it be acceptable to you?

Flattery is contrary to the principles of leadership. Leaders never sail under false colours because they know if they do it then on one fine day their boat is doomed to be rocked.

Couple of years ago famous Hindi film actor, Aamir Khan had made film "Lagaan". In the film he played a character of village lad, Bhuvan. One fine day, the British administration raises the tax on agriculture produce. Villagers go to him and ask for waiver. The British Captain, tosses a challenge to the villagers - play a cricket match with me and I will waive off the tax for three years. Villagers had never played cricket. It was something coking snook at them. However, this Bhuvan accepts challenge, learns cricket, teaches others and win the match against British as well.

Now going by your theory, should Bhuvan have flattered British captain for the waiver of tax?

It appears that you are so obsessed to succeed that this obsession has stopped giving second thought before writing the post on this forum or on your blog!

Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Dinesh,

I'd very politely suggest that you please read the full article then point out specific points with which you disagree and I will be happy to put forth my side.

a) "...Far from it what you are saying is to dilute those values....."

The article says do your work and keep your boss happy. It suggest few practical steps, none of which is unprofessional or unethical or demeaning or deceptive.

I can't understand which values does it dilute. Pls specify.

b) "...If you look at America, it has grown because of research in various subjects and also free criticism. Those who eschew criticism have never grown, we the Indians no exception....."

Neither the article nor the forum post anywhere say don't do research or eschew criticism. If you saw that somewhere, please quote the line.

c) "...By flattery you can get a promotion or two but is this the end of your career?...."

I don't think only flattery can even get you two promotions and even the article clearly states that only flattery won't take you anywhere.

d) "...If someone want to take up the route of entrepreneurship, can that flatterer succeed as entrepreneur?...."

Talk to an entrepreneur who is building or has built something. Along with a great product, you need good terms with customers otherwise the business would not take off. You can call it flattery, you can call it perception management or you can call it customer experience.

You can't tell your customer, "Look, here is a great product and I don't believe in being extra nice to you so take it and get lost"

e) "...Today you recommend flattery to get promotion. In this way, your boss's expectations will rise. Tomorrow he will start asking something from your family members as well. Then will it be acceptable to you?...."

I am sorry but that's just too filmy (are you suggesting something like the movie Indecent Proposal??) - If I am extra nice to my boss, he will begin "asking something from family members". I'd again say, pls read the article - nowhere does it suggest anything that is demeaning or against professional ethic.

f) "...Flattery is contrary to the principles of leadership. Leaders never sail under false colours because they know if they do it then on one fine day their boat is doomed to be rocked....."

Leadership means understanding how things work and making things happen. It does not mean having an idealistic view of the world and pretending that things which I do not understand or do not like, they do not exist.

g) "...Couple of years ago famous Hindi film actor, Aamir Khan had made film "Lagaan"....."

Aww, films again?

Bollywood films are bad examples to try and emulate in real life. These days, the hero makes 100 goons fly off with a tiny flick of his fingers - I don't think either you or I can do that :)

f)"... Now going by your theory, should Bhuvan have flattered British captain for the waiver of tax?...."

Two things: i) The British captain was not Bhuvan's boss, he was a challenger. I don't think the article asks anyone to flatter his challenger, and, ii) The other players in the team modified their behaviors to gain favor with Bhuvan and this along with their ability to bat or bowl (i.e. do their job) made the boss give them responsibilities.

Your example infact supports what is stated in the article. Several players, though they batted or bowled well, were not included in the team till they changed their behavior to Bhuvan's liking. That's exactly what I am saying - do your job and make your boss like you. I don't see what's wrong here.

g) "...It appears that you are so obsessed to succeed that this obsession has stopped giving second thought before writing the post on this forum or on your blog!....."

I actually gave it fourth, fifth and even a sixth thought and then I realized there is no point pretending that bosses are machines devoid of human emotions and failings.

I understand that to succeed, one needs both, the ability to produce results and the ability to maintain good terms with key decision makers and I do not want to deceive my students by teaching them something which I do not think is true.

And now, a question for you - Do you think that a person does not need to maintain good terms with his boss and only his work will make him succeed? If you think a person needs both hard work and good terms with his boss to do well, why be shy to admit it?

From India, Delhi
Dear Bodhisutra,

You have given me reply point by point. However, more than debate it is turning info quibbling.

Nowhere you have written, however, one can infer from your post that by proposing to become flatter, what you are trying to put forth is be "street smart" as well. Then let me tell you that becoming street smart is not everyone's cup of tea. One will never grow under a boss who expects his/her junior to flatter him/her.

Secondly, if "flattery" is a method of building one's character, then let that person built the character attain the glorious heights and sustain this height for a longer period. I am yet to come across with this kind of example.

Lastly, great leaders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, NR Narayan Murthy or Jack Welch would not have appreciated flatterers around them. They would have thrown out obsequious people. What if you end up in losing your job because of flattery?

To give you example of opposite kind then let me tell you that owner of Invensys sacked his CEO, because that CEO never challenged views of his boss. Owner said "I have not hired you to echo my views!"

Lastly, strategy and flattery do not go hand in hand. Those who keep on thinking currying favour with the boss cannot think of bringing out something new or giving direction to the enterprise.

Yes, at the end of the day, "boss is always right" is the mantra of survival but then that does not mean one should become sycophant. If the boss is bossy or dogmatic one can just keep quite and do what he/she says. This is a compromise to continue in the job. Certainly it cannot be said as flattery.

Ok...

DVD

From India, Bangalore
Dear Dinesh,

I think we are mixing many things.

"Becoming street smart" or "flattery building character" are not connected to what the article tries to convey so let's get that out of the way.

Also, let's not speculate on how Jack Welch or Steve Jobs or Narayanmurthy or the owner of Invensys would react in a certain situtation. Please do share if you have a specific incident and also quote the source of the reliable information.

Also, let's not equate flattery with being obsequious or echoing boss's views or saying, "Boss is always right"- the article is against that and it is the fastest way to lose respect in the eyes of the boss.

Survival is not the objective here, remember, we are talking about being a super performer.

That's a whole lot of misunderstanding about what the article wants to convey and what you are inferring.

The article simply makes two points:

a) Only flattery will not make you a superstar and only hard work will also not make you a superstar, and,

b) Here are 5 practical steps with which you can maintain good terms with your boss and earn his respect and confidence.


Let me know if you have disagreement with these two points - and I don't think it is becoming squabbling, as I said, disagreements only enrich the pool of ideas :)

From India, Delhi
I think the problem comes because of the word "Flattery".
Flattery is a bad word and no one wants to be associated with it.
What you are saying makes a lot of sense - I have seen many people who work very hard, give great results but because of their lack of social skills or inability to have good terms with the boss, they always get ratings and raises less than what they deserve.
We cannot deny the importance of maintaining good relations with the boss. Of course, it should be done in a professional and ethical manner.
My two cents.

From India, Ghaziabad
Dear All:
The debate is not so much about flattery, as it is about being able - and doing this 'ably' - to mingle, manage and 'manipulate' oxymorons with shades of the rainbow and the cascade of colors of butterflies as they seek flight in the green valles of the Amazon jungles: it's getting people at times to believe in that they are more than they really are. That gets the job done!

From Pakistan, Karachi
Mr Bodhisutra,
I think people are trying to criticize the article without reading it fully with an open mind. I think what you have tried to explain is correct - highlighting the positive points of the boss to him, which will please him. This is applicable not only to the boss but also to peers, subordinates, friends, relatives, even wife and children. Everybody has some plus points - talking about that to them without nefarious motives is not negative!
But I suggest you do not have to defend yourself against everyone's critical views, they are not going to be changed through exchange of postings on CiteHR. People are entitled to criticize the boss, while those who who praise him with finesse get ahead!

From India, Bangalore

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