I sat in on a sales meeting at a firm based on the West Rand. The sales director cast his eyes over the faces in the meeting room after he had suggested a certain course of action.

"Now," he said, "we'll take a vote on my recommendation. Any of you guys in opposition raise your right hand and say 'I resign'."

That's the stuff of which good bosses are made. They won't tolerate any arguments. Dissent is a no-no if you want to drive the business to the corporate undertaker.

Nobody is born a boss. You become one through a process of evolution. Unless you're IDB (in Daddy's business), you work your way up through the ranks, where you become imbued with the hierarchical spirit and saturated in traditional corporate culture. Finally, after a long and arduous apprenticeship, you shed your "appy" mantle, get a reserved parking bay on site, your name on an office door and you're entitled to bark orders.

If you're going to bury the business, you rule by fear. Anyone who flouts company policy, shuns established regulations or procedures or disobeys your orders gets the chop. Offering uncalled for advice or suggestions also results in termination.

A good boss from an ailing business point of view is a harde kop who wears a worried expression on the face of each subordinate.

But beware.

The path to business mortality is pocked with pitfalls. For instance, when you reach the dizzy executive heights, you'll find that you're surrounded by a posse of management consultants These okes will warn you that you have to adapt your management techniques to meet the challenge of change.

Ignore them.

Stick to precedent. If it worked back in 18-voetsek, it'll probably work now ... a bit slower, maybe, and less responsive. And to hell with what your competitors do.

Aspire to become what the Yanks call an "empty suit". This is a boss-type person who strikes useless, borrowed postures and regurgitates outmoded second-hand ideas. He also spends a lot of time and energy on maintaining the status quo in a crumbling pyramidal hierarchy.

To achieve this, you need to be assertive. You need to rule your piece of corporate fiefdom like your house. Never accept any excuses from your manne who depart from the laid down rules. For example, look at Nico van Heerden, who worked as a cutter for a clothing manufacturer in the North End, Port Elizabeth.

Nico had never been late for work in the 25 years he'd worked for the company. One morning, however, he clocked in at nine instead of the usual eight o'clock. His right arm was in a sling, his face was criss-crossed with plaster and he walked with a pronounced and obviously painful limp.

When the works manager asked why he was late, Nico told him: "I leaned too far out of the window on the third floor and crashed on to the pavement."

The works manager looked at him and shrugged. "That takes an hour? We'll take it off your pay."

If you start taking an interest in your employees' personal problems, they'll take it as a sign of weakness. Soon too your authority will be challenged by workers who think they know of better, less costly and more efficient ways of doing things.

Give them the brush off. Scowl at them. Growl at them. Threaten to axe them. Do everything you can to keep them away from you. If you stoop to accept their advice and implement any of their ideas, you may find the company pulling itself out of the red and into the black.

Advocates America's be-nice-to-everybody guy Dale Carnegie: "There is only one way under heaven to get anybody to do anything, and this is by making them want to do it."

He suggests that you give them a sense of purpose ... a feeling that they're working towards an important goal. Among his other suggestions are:


building a team spirit;


setting clear, challenging goals;


refraining from becoming involved in arguments, and


criticising gently, or not at all.

Only heed what he says if you're intent on prolonging the life of the business.

Otherwise implement my simple 10-point plan.


Recruit only lethargic "yes" men. Ignore ambitious enthusiasts who brim with bright ideas.


Never take risks. If your employees don't stick to established procedures, give them their walking papers.


Ignore all feedback from the shop floor or those who operate in the field.


Threaten anyone who dissents with demotion: fire persistent offenders.


If you communicate at all, communicate a gloom-laden outlook. It's contagious and will quickly infect everyone in the business.


Always find fault with everything your subordinates do. This should have a hoped-for negative impact on the sales graph.


Restrict yourself to short-term, bottom line thinking. Long-term visions may promote unwanted corporate longevity.


Go out of your way to create tension between your company, its suppliers and its customers.


When you offer criticism, make it destructive.


Do your best to break up team formations which promise to get positive results.

1. I thought I made it clear
2. Let's not rock the boat
3. We tried that once before
4. Who cares? It's the company time after all
5. I'm the boss. Do as I say
6. I can't stand change
7. We made the cuts, now lets get back to work
8. I'll do it as soon as possible
9. I prefer to work alone
10. Speaking as a Nestlé man
11. Get him on the line!
12. I've got 20 years experience
13. Let's keep it confidential
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