Like a Boss!

Written By

Ushasi Sen Basu

Like a Boss! Loading

I find human relationships fascinating; how nuanced the simplest one is. Like how, had it not been for your mother-figures, you might’ve been walking around on all fours and baying at the moon instead of…reading this article. A great loss that doesn’t bear consideration. Yet — she’s probably the one we snap at most; whose seemingly endless quirks drive us furthest up the wall.

And then there are relationships in which you are pre-destined to be at loggerheads; the classic example being the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law association. The boss and his direct report also have a traditionally fraught relationship; or more interestingly the female boss and her subordinate. We all know the stereotypical image of the go-getting female boss; all ravening, blood-stained teeth and slashing red-tipped claws. I’m happy to say I’ve never encountered such a specimen.

In my 8 years of working in an office I’ve had two female bosses and three male ones. All five were completely different; in their leadership styles (or lack thereof) and personality types. However, if one must make generalizations based on gender I would have to say the women (in my case) were the better bosses.

Far from the perennially PMS-ed up, hysterical woman; one of my bosses was a laid-back, easy going American who only required people to write perfectly and deliver the proscribed quantities. How and when was our look-out. This approach was quite ingenious because one felt guilty of taking advantage of her good nature and tried not to disappoint.

My second and last female boss was very different. She was driven. She skipped lunches and breaks to sit at her laptop, concentrating resolutely on interminable calls or presentations. But ask her for help and she rarely turned you down. She coached and supported me through terribly trying projects, but stepped back when the accolades came rolling in.

I had had a different boss, a male one, in the same team before her. His approach was to make snap judgements and stick to them, deeming me and a few others in the team backbenchers and giving us little responsibility and no recognition. This lady breezed in and decided to give everyone equal responsibility; and adjusted or helped with the burden as and when she discerned it was needed. The said backbenchers bloomed under her supervision (to the dismay of some of the front benchers) and it was like the rest of the office only noticed us after 2 years of limbo.

It wasn’t a terribly interesting job; but I stayed because she showed me I possessed skills even outside my tiny comfort zone.

I can hear you whispering — “girl-crush”. Perhaps a little bit. It’s only because I was privileged to see a superlative boss in action. I left after 5 years, when I had my daughter, though she tried to convince me otherwise. I hear she’s quite a bigshot now; which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

It’s absolutely silly to toss people, regardless of their abilities, into two boxes labelled ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’. Bosses, just like drivers, parents, and cooks; won’t be good or bad based on whether they have a uterus or not. It all depends on what kind of people they are.

Think of that the next time you use ‘lady-boss’ like a bad word. You never know, you may have as rewarding a relationship with yours, as I did with mine, if you can only see past the stereotypes.




Ushasi Sen Basu, 37, lives in Bangalore and is the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of She published her debut contemporary literary fiction novel, 'Kathputli’ in early 2017, in both Kindle and paperback formats. Ushasi has been a professional writer and editor for over a decade. She also has an unpopular blog called The Crib that pokes fun at everything, including herself. Ushasi (aka Shashi, "U" and 'You-Over-There') loves literature and music, and dances like nobody’s watching. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl, who is the joy of her life and grudging guinea pig for many of her parenting experiments.

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