At the Heart of Heartless

Is it really true that the asshole wins more often?  Do nice guys really finish last?  A dilemma faced me as a friend told me that I was a “Fake” a “Fake Asshole.”  I told myself, “Boy, am I in trouble now.”


Top Rules About Bosses

  1. The boss is always right.
  2. If you think the boss is wrong, refer to rule number one. 

That same friend I mentioned above started her week getting more than unwarranted earful from the head a-hole in her life.  That a-hole happened to be the big big big boss of a big big big entity in the Philippines.  Never mind that the boss had no basis to drive her nuts at the start of the week, it’s still a cardinal truth that RULE NUMBER ONE will always be correct.

Hey, people would drive other people nuts without notice.  Even those at the top of top organizations aren’t exempt. Personally, I don’t get it.


In recent readings on leadership, I often come into contact with how leaders should be able to mold people and hone their skills.  They should also be able to let go of people they do not like but should also be able to let them down gently.  I thought to myself that if this is true nearly most of the time, then there should be no horrible bosses.

The way I look at it, most of the top people I see have a competitive cutthroat aura about them.  Now, how is nurturing going to fit into that picture.  I remember an old boss who dealt mainly with fairness rather than kindness.  Kind words when you’re new, and a fair kick on yer arse was what you would get if you screwed up.


Honestly, I am inclined to think that people who want to climb all the way to the top need to forget about feeling for other people all of the time.  They have to free themselves of the chains that bind them onto the ground.  There is also a need to put self at the forefront.  Call it being self-centered driven by practical reasons.  Like, I don’t think that people go up the ladder first if he pushes others up before him.  I also doubt if the ones pushed up would pull anyone else up once there.  The higher you go up the ladder, the bigger the picture would seem and those left behind would seem like ants to you.  At the top, the big picture is all that counts.  The big picture isn’t a collage of faces.



  1. Very throught provoking. First of all, consider the base of workers from which bosses are drawn. They are a bunch of well-intended flakes. Cut-ups, lazy, uneducated, non-creative sluggards. Most of them would toss their lola to the sharks to get an easier job with more pay. Most of them know they are incompetent but paste over it with bluster and pretense. Some of these are able to catch a few breaks and get promotions. They rise to the point that they are revealed (the “Peter Principle”). Now, in smaller corporations they can actually rise to become the big boss, and that sounds like the kind of boss most of your friends have. But in large corporations, something different happens. The company becomes a big sucking vacuum cleaner looking for the best talent within and drawing it to the top. So if you happen to be one of those capable few, the organization just sucks you up the chain of command. And on the way up, you find yourself dealing with all the nitwits who are enjoying their Peter Principle moment, and you begin to recognize that you need skills to deal with them. And to get around them to keep going up. And the skills you develop are apersonal. That is, they are corporate, with only the needs of the corporation underpinning them. Personality and personal needs are set aside in favor of the firm, unemotional drive to make more money for the shareholders.

    So bosses at large corporations are confident, capable, and don’t get sucked into the needy world most of the rest of us inhabit.If your value system is built on need and nurture, these bosses will seem like a-holes. But they aren’t.

    The moral of the story. If you are needy, go work for a small corporation and snuggle up to the a-hole boss there. If you are competent, go to work for a large corporation and get yanked up to the top where everybody else only thinks that you are an a-hole.

    1. Hi, Uncle Joe.

      Thought provoking? Thanks. I suddenly remembered that you were once part of that unemotional system. Yeah, I do agree that personality and personal needs should be set aside. However, should that be the case all of the time? I can suggest that a-holeness varies at levels of the organization. Those at the front lines need “care” and “nurturing” the most, you rally these troops to go to war for you. As you go higher up, the expectation is to be “less needy.” The higher you go up, the more stable you should appear. Um, I don’t know if generals hug each other.

      In any case, how about micromanaging C-Level execs?

      And I love your “moral lesson.” Hahaha. There is hope for me after all.

      1. Actually, the best bosses are able to personalize their supervision to make it caring and open to expression, so, yes, you are right, there should be room for engagement of the individual and his or her needs. Indeed, a good boss leverages personal ambitions to the best interest of the company. And, for sure, sluggard bosses are the biggest problem for a top-performing, ambitious underling. The choice of leaving the company becomes the preferable choice if the sluggard boss is an impossible roadblock to growth and achievement within a given time period.

        And the higher up the organization, indeed, as you point out, the less personal needs are a part of the negotiation. Achievement and ideas are the foundation for achievement and selection of who gets promoted. Yes, generals rarely hug. That is an amusing insight you cast.

        My brother-in-law is completing the marine studies program at a local university. My advice to him was set your goal, to get your own ship. Then everything you do should be oriented toward that goal. That means making sure your boss is a success at every stage along the way. Not success by “kiss ass”, but by achievement. I rather think if someone works with the idea of proving to the “boss” that he and the company are better off “by promoting my intelligent hardworking ass”, there will be no bad bosses. Only paths to achievement, and success.

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