HOW TO STEER A DIFFICULT COURSE
The employee who is suddenly taken up, flattered, and offered an unusually good position by a man of this type would do well to hesitate long before accepting. If he does accept, he should take care that he does not attempt anything beyond his powers and that he does not accept a larger salary than he is able to earn. Once in his position, he should be modest, efficient, and do his best to keep out of cliques and inside politics. At the same time, he should take great care not to offend those who are powerful. The employees of every “Napoleonic” executive are, by the very nature of the organization, forced into politics. Tenure of office, promotion, and increase in pay all depend, not upon real service—although real service counts; not upon efficiency and merit—although these also count; but primarily upon the whims and caprices of an employer of this type. Every employee of any importance, therefore, does his best, first, to keep his own relations to his employer on a frank, easy, confidential basis; second, in so far as in him lies, to be at peace with all his fellow employees. We have seen some of the most valuable men of their kind we have ever met suddenly discharged without a word of explanation by employers of this type. The trouble was that someone who could get a hearing carried a bit of scandal, perhaps without the slightest foundation in fact, to the ever-suspicious ears of the boss. The boss, because he lacked the courage to admit that he had listened to such gossip, removed a man who had served him satisfactorily for years without a word of warning, and without a hearing.
Unless you understand human nature, and if you are at all responsive to appreciation, there is probably no greater pleasure than to work for such a man as we have described, so long as the sunshine of his favor falls upon you. But, as a general rule, we find their employees anything but happy. Almost without exception they feel that their tenure of office hangs by the slenderest of threads and that it is necessary to regard all of their fellow employees with suspicion. Some men enjoy working in this fevered atmosphere. If you are one of them, there are excellent opportunities for you in the employ of a man of this type. But you will do well always to have a good safe place prepared in which to land if you should suddenly be dropped.
In all of your dealings with the man who lacks real courage, remember that his blustering and show of bravery is only an assumption to cover up his deficiencies and that if you yourself have the courage to face him and, in the language of the street, “to call his bluff,” he will quiet down and be perfectly amenable to reason. But be sure to observe your man carefully and accurately before trying to call his bluff.