On Having One Boss, or Dozens
I am an academic. Although my work history includes being a TA, an adjunct, an assistant professor and an associate professor, I have always worked under the assumption that I am my own boss. The criteria for success in my profession have always been more or less clear: teach well, publish your original research in respectable venues, do the work of keeping your institution up and running in a sensible manner. Aside from an annual check-in with the head of department, I have been a free-range scholarly chicken, pecking at my piles of work until I considered them done.
Being your own boss, while it conjures images of independence from authority, flexibility of hours, and the ability to set one’s own goals and priorities, can be quite a bitch. When you are your Own Boss, there is never a day off. You are always there, peering over your shoulder, wondering whether you should be knitting that Christmas stocking or perhaps reading a few articles for that research project you’re neglecting instead. You can be a very annoying boss indeed. I found My Own Boss to be a rather persistent off-hours stalker, who pestered me in a quiet, nagging way that grew tiresome.
In my current position, I am not My Own Boss, which is a good thing (see above). I have A Boss. But he isn’t really the Boss-y type, which leaves me in the position of being My Own Boss again, or, allowing each committee, team, project I work on to be populated by a small army of bosses, who each feel that they know what I should be doing. Dozens of bosses, daily informal performance evaluations (that isn’t what we wanted, Jennifer!), and no authority in sight.
Time to put on my Big Girl Boots and show that I know very well how to be My Own Boss.