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Pam

To think he could have just supported the Girl Scouts by ordering a case of the cookies, and then built morale by sharing with the un-titled, for a win-win. Truly a missed opportunity for leadership to exemplify what it spouts. Too sad.

Lindsay Spencer

Without discussing the Christian part, this is still bad managing. Is a cookie (or a box of cookies) really worth berating an employee? Or taking away privileges? Is eating the last cookie such a crime? Someone has to do it. If the CEO was the one to eat it would he be a bad person? I agree with Thomas' statements about community norms, but in the long run, having to go get another box of cookies or making the coffee yourself isn't really that hard.

Ergoboy

So my story is about a different kind of boss - a parent. I think the anecdotes will be fitting with the article.

My dad had this sort of problem. If anyone other than he "took the last cookie" or "drank the rest of the Coke", or "ate the rest of the pizza" or "used up all the hot water" (e.g. took a shower before him, even if it was hours before him), there would be screaming and a lot of hell to pay.

My family developed some odd strategies for dealing with his tyrannical behavior. We would eat all the cookies, except 2. If there were 2 left it would counter the cookie argument. We would drink all the coke except for the last 2 ounces. Again, circumventing the argument.

The pizza issue was different, though. Pizza was a real treat. We were very poor, and we didn't get it very often. There was an unspoken rule that once the pizza box went from the counter to the refrigerator, that pizza was no longer community pizza, but "his" pizza.
We became pizza gluttons. We didn't just eat until we were full and then save it for later. We gorged ourselves, but left one piece so we wouldn't hear the "...ate all of the..." argument.

As an adult, I have to remind myself that I can control when I buy things like pizza, so its okay to save some for later.

That type of behavior from a boss created some interesting work arounds and some long term problems that I can recognize through counseling and emotional intelligence. Working in that situation would be bad enough, but you can get another job. Having a parent that did that is another story.

Bruce Lynn

A couple of quotes a friend and colleague (Gordon Smilie) used to cite seem apropos here...

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” - Abraham Lincoln

"The secret to using power is not to use it.” - Jessica Alba

Thomas

I'm always a bit surprised at your use of these anecdotes. They always seem more ambiguous to me than you make out.

In this case, for example, what does "his favourite box of cookies" mean? Were they actually the CEO's cookies. I.e., are we talking about a cookie thief? Even if the cookies were communal property, there may have been some spoken or unspoken norm that if you empty the box you have to go get another one (from the store in the lobby or simply the storeroom).

Around here, a continual minor irritation is an empty pot of coffee. (The person who took the last cup didn't start brewing another.) People who make a big deal out of that could easily be characterized as "assholes" by the slackers in the office. But they are also, in a strict formal (or "Christian") sense right. Not putting on a new pot of coffee is not "doing unto others..." etc.

Sometimes the enforcers of this rule happen to also be assholes, of course. But I would need more than anecdote about a single instance to see whether that is true.

If a CEO let everyone use the exectutive bathroom, but then noticed that it was always being left a complete mess, he might reassert the sanctity of that space. He wouldn't be an asshole to do so.

Carol Murchie

It is sad. As Bill Maher observed in "Religulous", he appreciated a group of born-again truckers for being Christ-like instead of Christian. I worked with and for ministers who always made sure they had "theirs" and then tell the staff there's nothing left to give them.

I may have said it here before, but I'll say it again: Frances Moore Lappe often points out that the word "power" is derived from the Latin "posse" which means to "be able". Therefore, power is greatest when it enables others to achieve.

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