The boss is busy. He's important. He's got so many important things to worry about. Meetings to attend. Emails to write. Reports to read. It's unreasonable to expect him to have time to spend consulting with you. Anyway, his matters are lofty and serious. He doesn't have to explain himself to you. You wouldn't understand anyway because it's very complicated. He knows what he's doing because he's the boss. It's serious work being a boss. Don't waste his time and just get your work done so he can do his. The boss is busy.
In mid-1942 Prime Minister Winston Churchill rose to address the House of Commons. The Second World War was in its third year and the British Army was in full retreat in North Africa. The German Afrika Corps was forty miles from Alexandria and eighty from Cairo. Prime Minister Churchill was debating a vote of no confidence in his leadership. He was being accused of allowing the Axis forces of Germany and Japan to conquer and enslave the remaining free world.
Churchill did not use fighting a World War as an excuse for not preparing for and engaging in open debate on his decision making. On the contrary, 'What a remarkable example it has been of the unbridled freedom of our Parliamentary institutions in time of war,' he said.
The boss can't be expected to know everything that's going on. How can he be responsible for something that was done two or three levels below him?
'The question of whether Tobruk could be held or not is difficult and disputable. It is one of those questions which are more easy to decide after the event than before it...But those who are responsible for carrying on the war have no such easy options open. They have to decide beforehand. The decision to hold Tobruk and the dispositions made for that purpose were taken by General Auchinleck, but I should like to say that we, the War Cabinet and our professional advisers, thoroughly agreed with General Auchinleck beforehand, and, although in tactical matters the Commander-in-Chief in any war theatre is supreme and his decision is final, we consider that, if he was wrong, we were wrong too, and I am very ready on behalf of His Majesty's Government to take my full share of responsibility.'
Why can't someone just make a decision? Everything takes so long. There is so much bureaucracy. Ask anyone what needs to be done and they will tell you. The boss is useless.
'Complaint has been made that the newspapers have been full of information of a very rosy character. Several Hon. Members have referred to that in the Debate, and that the Government have declared themselves less fully informed than newspapers...The war correspondents have nothing to do except to collect information, write their despatches and get them through the censor. On the other hand, the generals who are conducting the battle have other preoccupations. They have to fight the enemy.'
The boss wants to be briefed. He wants to have everything run past him. He wants to approve every decision. He wants papers. He wants meetings. He wants pre-meeting meetings. He wants updates. He wants to step in if necessary.
'Although we have always asked that they should keep us informed as much as possible, our policy has been not to worry them but to leave them alone to do their job. Now and then I send messages of encouragement and sometimes a query or a suggestion, but it is absolutely impossible to fight battles from Westminster or Whitehall. The less one interferes the better, and certainly I do not want generals in close battle, and these desert battles are close, prolonged and often peculiarly indeterminate, to burden themselves by writing full stories on matters upon which, in the nature of things, the home Government is not called upon to give any decision...Therefore, the Government are more accurately, but less speedily, less fully and less colourfully informed than the newspapers.'
The boss likes people who work late. Who show how much they care by the number of furrows in their brow.
'Some people assume too readily that, because a Government keeps cool and has steady nerves under reverses, its members do not feel the public misfortunes as keenly as do independent critics. On the contrary, I doubt whether anyone feels greater sorrow or pain than those who are responsible for the general conduct of our affairs.'
The boss wants to know why the plan went wrong.
'Sir, I do not know what actually happened in the fighting of that day. I am only concerned to give the facts to the House, and it is for the House to decide whether these facts result from the faulty central direction of the war, for which of course I take responsibility, or whether they resulted from the terrible hazards and unforeseeable accidents of battle.'
The boss wants to scrutinise every decision. He won't approve anything until he's absolutely certain that it is perfect.
'How do you make a tank? People design it, they argue about it, they plan it and make it, and then you take the tank and test and re-test it. When you have got it absolutely settled you go into production, and only then do you go into production. But we have never been able to indulge in the luxury of that precise and leisurely process. We have had to take it straight off the drawing board and go into full production, and take the chance of the many errors which the construction will show coming out after hundreds and thousands of them have been made.'
The boss has a serious job. He's a serious man making very, very serious and important decisions. Don't mock the boss. He deserves our respect.
'This tank, the A.22, was ordered off the drawing board, and large numbers went into production very quickly. As might be expected, it had many defects and teething troubles, and when these became apparent the tank was appropriately re-christened the "Churchill."'
The boss doesn't like mistakes. He wants the job done right the first time. If not, he'll lay the blame where it belongs. He can't be held responsible for what others do.
'I cannot pretend to form a judgment upon what has happened in this battle. I like commanders on land and sea and in the air to feel that between them and all forms of public criticism the Government stand like a strong bulkhead. They ought to have a fair chance, and more than one chance. Men may make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. Men may have bad luck, and their luck may change. But anyhow you will not get generals to run risks unless they feel they have behind them a strong Government. They will not run risks unless they feel that they need not look over their shoulders or worry about what is happening at home, unless they feel they can concentrate their gaze upon the enemy.'
It's a serious business being a boss. It's no laughing matter. He's engaged in important things.
'I have stuck hard to my blood, toil, tears and sweat, to which I have added muddle and mismanagement...'
The boss acts on instinct. He makes decisions and expects his authority to be carried out. No questions. If something goes wrong, let's spin ourselves out of it. Don't admit anything.
'Nearly all my work has been done in writing, and a complete record exists of all the directions I have given, the inquiries I have made and the telegrams I have drafted. I shall be perfectly content to be judged by them.'