Nothing I Cannot Fix - October 15, 2021

Soon you will receive your invitation to the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s first-ever Please Don’t Show GalaIt is a fundraising “event” for these challenging and unpredictable times. We hope you will “RSVP” by making your commitment to the 2022 Campaign for Community Needs (and enjoy staying home). If you prefer, make your gift today by clicking here.
In addition, we are delighted that once again a donor will match all 10%+ increases to our campaign. We have already raised over $1 million, but need your help to reach our goal. We are turning to you -- Your Mitzvah Moment Starts NOW!
Who would think I would ever have to mention this. Yesterday afternoon, unbelievable news came out of the Carroll Independent School District in Texas. House Bill 3979 requires Texas schools to "present multiple perspectives about widely debated and currently controversial issues." The district executive director for curriculum and instruction was recorded saying, "Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing -- that has other perspectives." I can only shake my head with anger and disgust!
National Boss’s Day is observed on October 16, except when that date falls on a weekend. Therefore, today we recognize and celebrate hardworking bosses everywhere. (I wonder if the Federation team knows what today is or will they quickly scramble to make a card after reading this?)
National Boss Day began in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, registered the holiday with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Haroski chose October 16, her father’s birthday, as the date for National Boss Day because she felt he was an exemplary boss.
What makes a "great" boss? In 2015, Travis Bradberry wrote an article in Forbes magazine about seven characteristics:
  • Great bosses are passionate. If the boss doesn’t care, why should anybody else? They believe in what they’re trying to accomplish, and they have fun doing it. This makes everyone else want to join the ride.
  • They stand in front of the bus. Some bosses will throw their people under the bus without a second thought; great bosses pull their people from the bus’s path before they are in danger. They coach, and they move obstacles out of the way, even if their people put those obstacles there in the first place. Sometimes, they clean up messes their people never even knew they made. And, if they cannot stop the bus, they will jump out in front of it and take the hit themselves.
  • They play chess not checkers. Think about the difference. In checkers, all the pieces are basically the same. In chess, each piece has a unique role, unique abilities, and unique limitations. Unforgettable bosses are like great chess masters. They recognize what is unique about each member of their team. They know their strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes, and they use these insights to draw the very best from each individual.
  • They are who they are, all the time. They do not lie to cover up their mistakes, and they do not make false promises. Equally as important, they do not hide things they have the freedom to disclose. Instead of hoarding information and being secretive to boost their own power, they share information and knowledge generously.
  • They are a port in a storm. They do not get rattled, even when everything is going haywire -- they remain cool under pressure. Also, bosses do not pass uncertainty down to their team members.
  • They are human. And they are not afraid to show it. They are personable and easy to relate to. They realize that people have emotions, and they are not afraid to express their own. They relate to their people as a person first and a boss second. On the other hand, they know how to keep their emotions in check when the situation calls for it.
  • They are humble. Since these bosses do not believe they are above anyone or anything, they openly address their mistakes so that everyone can learn from them. Their modesty sets a tone of humility and strength that everyone else follows.
I hope that I measure up to these seven characteristics in my own work. My team will let me know. Yet, at the end of the day, I believe every boss needs to evolve. Workplace habits and work styles continue to change (generational differences, technology usage, and most recently the impact of COVID). Plus, “boss - team member” dynamics can be tricky. One of the greatest lessons I learned along the way, especially in my first supervisory role, is that it is not about authority – it is about interdependence. Any boss will be far more successful when they stop thinking about what their people can do for them and start thinking about what they can do to help their people succeed.
Perhaps this is the best way to describe two types of bosses:
  1. Those who take a keen interest in your personal development; meet with you regularly; keep their door open; walk the floor routinely and delegate appropriately.
  2.  Those who leave you alone.
You can choose which you prefer.
I think a lot about my role as the CEO of the Jewish Federation and how I work with my team. I hope that I inspire, protect, and help each of them to grow and develop. I want them to know how much I appreciate their work and efforts. Most of all, I recognize how much I learn from them each and every day.
Let me close with this short story and the most important words I ever heard from a boss. I was starting my first job at the Jewish Federation in Baltimore. In my first meeting with my new boss, he said to me, “I trust you to do your job, so go do it. And know there is almost nothing you can do that I cannot fix.” I have never forgotten those words and share the same with my team.
Shabbat shalom.
Marc N. Blattner
President and CEO 


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