Why can’t he just be a leader?

I sit here at 11 in the night and waiting for my approval to trip back to India. I sent request for the approval on Thursday and have been waiting for three working days. I know the approval will come but I am waiting for the date that will come back in the approval – can be 15 or 22 july.  I was supposed to go back in early July but has been pushed already. My anxiety to meet my family is increasing.

As I sit here and wait for the email to come, I can not reach out the person who has to approve the request. Only person I can reach out to is my manager and he is three levels down the person who has to approve. This makes me think – are they leaders? Why can I not reach out to anyone above my immediate manager? Why do we even have a hierarchy in place? Can we not do work in a horizontal leadership model? Why does pyramid has to exist?

The reason I know I can’t reach beyond Harsha (my direct manager) is because I have been asked so, I have been told rather instructed to go via Harsha for any details I need from people above him in hierarchy. I have been told by Krishna (Harsha’s manager – our Director) that he will meet his direct reports for any details he needs and there is no need for us to meet regularly. I feel he has shut the door on us and it will only open when we have any issues or escalations.

Why can’t he have the door open for all of 150 people who report into him? Why not? Why can’t he just be a leader? Or are they just managers?

Leaders or just Managers?

Recalling an incident from 2007, it reminds me of the ideology of being “emotional for your work and company”. The phrase comes to mind – “Married to the company”.

In the past I have tried to be very emotional around my work, but a couple of discussions back in 2008 with a Senior Project Manager and a Director made me realize a few things. And now when I contemplate those things back and see similar things happening elsewhere too.

My assessment back then was that being emotional towards work and company (someone else) will only hurt me in the end. In the past I had worked almost twice the tenure with my company. For the 4 years I spent, my time spent working clocked to almost 8 years. No doubts that I was learning a lot, but the mistakes I did was that I was emotional about my work. I used to put that in front of everything else in my life. The rewards were good too – money, position etc. Until the day my project started to do South. A meeting that I had with a Senior Project Manager (Manish) around my future role on the project made me realize that he was going to sacrifice a human interest for the betterment of the project. He is a very successful manager in the organization and is very talented too.

A year later in 2008, another meeting made me realize that the company will choose to pay new hires more than what I am getting because I enjoy the Goodwill in the organization. I was not fully sure how to respond back then. But, I realize now that this is how every company operates. What I fail to understand is how that works out. A company/manager chooses to pay less to an existing employee who has done well for them and has generated results in the past; someone who knows the domain and the company. How can a manager/company let go of that person and go about finding a replacement only to give that new person a higher compensation and in the process spend a lot more on training and opportunity.

Maybe, this is a trait of a successful manager, I do not believe that this is a trait for a good leader. I have not done any MBA, but all these people who are running companies around me are MBAs from IIMs and other premier institutes. I do not understand the rationale behind it.