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To Have A Boss Or Not – The Coaching Room

Dividing People Into Masters And Slaves

Since the beginning of time, there has been a societal construct dividing people into masters and slaves.  The master is the ruler and the slave has someone controlling his time and energy.  In today’s society, this translates into the relationship between a boss and an employee.  The employee has someone controlling his time, his energy, what he does, and how many hours a week he does it.


This phenomenon of master and slave has existed for centuries and is perpetuated today in the organizations where we are employed.  We have been programmed to see royalty and the wealthy in a higher echelon.  Over time, it has become engrained in our collective consciousness that this master and slave existence is a positive and helpful relationship.


We’ve been weaned on the fact that our places in society are static and as a slave, or today as an employee, we thrive when we are told what to do. This ideology has been reinforced for so long, that organizations and their employees have become dependent on it and we see having a boss as a necessity.


Employing The Self-Employed

In order for society to abandon this codependent relationship of master and slave, there needs to be an evolution. If everyone suddenly decided they didn’t want to work, there would be chaos. The construct of our current world view would start to dissolve if everyone started to do what they wanted to and society didn’t evolve. If we all became employers and there were no employees there would be no one to do the work needed to perpetuate society as we know it.


This brings to question the concept of employing the self-employed, made popular over twenty-five years ago, by Robert Kegan in his book, “In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life.” This concept is disruptive to the current structure of most organizations and the way they are built.


It breaks down the status quo and creates concern among the managers and business owners that there will be a loss of control. The irony is that if you employ people who are self-employed they will do the job because it is inherently satisfying that they are in control of their time and how they choose to use it.  


Theory And The Absence of Theory

Employing the self-employed is a prosocial statement based in the absence of a theory. A theory is the basis of an intellectual discourse about a given social context. Without a theory, you are left with a negation. German philosopher, Theodor Adorno explains that “the absence of a theory becomes a material force when it seizes the masses.”  


Take the example of an employee who works for an organization for many years. Eventually, he becomes redundant and is let go. He then goes to work for another massive organization until he becomes redundant there, repeating the cycle throughout his career.  


Here, the absence of a theory of being and doing has led to dependency and lack of thought. We’ve created job functions in organizations for people where they have the theoretical freedom to be independent and do things differently.  


However they fall victim to the dependent collective material voice that says without a reason to change, you should maintain status quo. This is exactly what employers and managers want because it means you are going to stay with them for your entire career.


The alternative here is to have a theory. Your theory is relative to your stage in life and your mentality. You need to be at a point where you have the contextual time to be able to be your own boss. The key is to not get enculturated into becoming dependent on an employer. When you create a theory for wanting to be self-employed you will find that you are freed from the master and servant concept.


Creating Your Theory

Creating your theory is about looking at your life. You need to evaluate your finances, your personal relationships, your career, and your employer. Identify your purpose or calling, then examine how it relates to what you are doing with your life, how it affects your being, and how it extends into your personal growth.  


Once you have cataloged the details of your current employment and your ideal purpose, it is time to go a step further. Ask yourself if what you are currently doing with your life is truly serving you well.


This is a question you need to answer honestly. It is not meant to be a leading question with an inference that the answer will be negative. It should be an objective and balanced question to determine if having a boss is serving you well. If the answer is yes, then your theory or lack of, is in line with your current stage of life. If the answer is no, now is the time to do something about it.


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