What's in a name? Boss? LO7010

Virginia I. Shafer (vshafer@AZStarNet.com)
Sun, 28 Apr 1996 00:02:41 -0700 (MST)

Replying to LO6987 --

Bill Fulkerson observed:

>I marvel at the frequent use of the word BOSS in this list. My preference
>is to use the term manager to describe the person to whom I report in the
>hierachical organization.

[Deliberate snip of another subject all to gather.]

>Others give me the impression that I am over doing a small point. I don't
>think so. The word BOSS doesn't belong in and around conversations about
>autonomy, empowerment, accountability, leadership, followership...

Applause, applause, applause! I hear BOSS and I immediately think, "Yes,
master, whatever you desire..." It's funny. I just looked the word up in
the dictionary* because of my overwhelming mental image of the ante-bellum
(pre-US civil war) South. "A person who employs or superintends others;"
hmm, "superintends...to oversee and direct." "_U.S._ a politician who
controls his party organization;" hmm, "controls..." "_Informal_a person
who exercises authority, dominates, etc.;" ahh, authority--the same thing
given when one is empowered.

But when I looked further at the secondary definitions of boss, that's
when I really began to laugh. "A protuberance or roundish excrescence
[any disfiguring addition] on the body...an ornamental protuberance of
metal, ivory, etc., stud. [Italian _bozza_ metal projecting part; see
BOTCH2] So, I did. I went to botch, secondary definition. "A swelling on
the skin; boil." Then it refers back to the root _bocce_, see BOSS. So I
go back to the previous page and see another set of definitions for boss.
"_U.S._ a name for a cow."

That's when I had to stop. I can no longer think of boss as a slave
master. I can only think of some protuberance on the body, like a
boil--something of a flaw that should be lanced, smoothed out, removed.

I use the word boss when I mean "task master," "slave driver," "order
barker," hands-on-the-reins control freak. Otherwise, manager,
supervisor, leader--these names work well for all others.

*{My trusty Random House College Dictionary.}

Thank you, Bill, for bringing it up.


Ginger Shafer The Leadership Dimension "Bringing Leadership to Life" vshafer@azstarnet.com

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>