Chief: (n) a leader or ruler of a people or clan.
I’m about to date myself. (I sure hope I bring me flowers…)
Long, long ago on a planet not so far away, there was a T.V. show called Superman. Yes, the Superman we’re all familiar with.
But this was low-budget, shot in black and white, with a Superman who had to hold his stomach in a lot.
The editor of the newspaper, you may remember, was Perry White. He was constantly plagued by a young cub reporter named Jimmy Olson. (Now, if you remember any of this, you’re either a big superhero geek, or you’ve just been dated, too.)
Jimmy Olson aggravated Perry White by calling him “Chief.” Perry White would bark at him, “Don’t call me Chief!”
It was a bit of comic relief in a show that needed some relief from somewhere.
But as I think about it today, we may desperately be in need of people who don’t want to be called “chief.” We come up with all sorts of synonyms and titles for jobs that make individuals feel they are important and powerful. We seem obsessed with the notion that even though we’re human, somehow or another–at least occasionally–we’re omnipotent.
We want to dominate. We want to control. We want to be respected, revered and maybe even feared.
We’ve lost the awareness that power merely brings responsibility. Somehow or another, we think being called “chief” requires less of us instead of more. I don’t know how we arrived at this–I guess it’s the notion that if we can order underlings around, we need never do anything ourselves, because even if they fail, we have someone to blame.
In the process, we’ve lost a valuable piece of humanity: the desire to serve.
You see, if we serve, that would make us “servers,” which means we’re hustling for tips instead of owning the restaurant.
Somewhere along the line, we need to sprout a new crop of leaders who have gained their prowess by learning how to be of service to others.
Otherwise we will continue to have ignorant chiefs who don’t understand the product, but are in charge of the board meeting.