The thing about work

"The bid offer is so wide you could drive a bus through it".

A month ago, I wrote about love and how being with someone should make you more awesome than you already are.

(That hasn’t changed; please keep on with the search for finding that someone if you haven’t already found her/him.)

A month on, some of my friends and loved ones have moved from finding love and romance to finding new careers – or at least gaining some traction in their current ones.

I’m happy for all of them, and thankfully, this time, they’re relatively happy with what they’ve found.

Unfortunately, some of my other friends and loved ones are still stuck in jobs that they dread, dragging their feet into the office in the mornings to do work they can’t stand.


After five years of being in the workforce and one year of leading the freelance life, I’m convinced that the main reason why people hate their jobs and/or leave is because of the quality of the leadership.

No doubt, there may be other reasons at play.

But if my experiences – and those of my peers – are anything to go by, a good leader makes all the difference.

Like love, the thing about work is that it needs to add value to your life (assuming, of course, that you’re already bringing something to the table).

But a job is a job; it’s something that you do in order to earn your keep.

The real game-changer is the leader who’s giving you good feedback so you minimise the possibility of making mistakes; guiding you so that you avoid pitfalls; and providing you with opportunities for growth and demonstration of value, among others.

I’ve written and posted about the principles of leadership before (read Part I here – the difference between a boss and a leader – and Part II, on what kind of vision a leader needs to have).

Google also has well-researched rules on how to become a better leader, which reiterates what I’ve written about leadership.

At the end of the day, the easiest rubric for measuring how good a leader is is this:

How, and in what ways, is my leader preparing me to take over her/him?

I know this sounds counter-intuitive and self-destructive: who would want to consume herself/himself, break his/her rice bowl, etc.?

But think about it: the moment your leader actively begins to prepare you to take over her/him, isn’t s/he fulfilling all the requisite characteristics a good leader should have, namely:

  • Empowering the team and its members;
  • Being a good communicator; and
  • Helping employees with career development, among others?

(Assuming your organisation is interested in keeping employees, because of the benefits such as talent retention and utilisation, institutional memory, etc.)

Furthermore, if your leader is preparing you to take over her/him, it also gives her/him the impetus to either step aside so that you can grow – or move upward to replace her/his leader (who, ideally, should also be preparing your leader to take over her/him), and so on.

So borrowing from my earlier post about love, if you’re with a leader who constrains you; curtails your development as a human being; turns you into a shadow of your awesome self, then is that leader really good for you?

We shouldn’t let past happiness or promises of future bliss in the work we’re doing cloud our vision.

What we should be doing, really, is focusing on the fundamental issue of how much our leaders are preparing us to take over her/him.

And if the gauge shows a reading that is minimal, negligible – or even negative – then I’d say you know the answer for what you need to do to be happy.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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