The Bossy CIO

Everyone is asking me about the latest reorganization in NASA.  In particular, the Center CIOs now report to me.  They ask, so it must be great that all the Center CIOs all belong to you.  The reality is that there’s not much truth to that.  The reality is that I now belong to all of THEM.

John C. Maxwell describes in The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader the value of Servanthood.  He notes that we all notice in the service industry when a worker doesn’t really want to help people.  People can detect easily in a leader’s heart.  The best leaders serve others and not themselves. 

It’s funny where you find leadership lessons.  I found one on this topic in a children’s book by Joy Berry called Being Bossy: Help Me Be Good.  It was left behind by my adorable niece Alyssa who mercilessly bossed around her big brother Brandon.  You can read a story about Katie and Tami and learn about being bossy. 

The author says that,

“No one likes to be bossed around.  Giving into a bossy person runs counter to human nature.  Most people do not want to relinquish control of their lives to someone else.  Therefore, it is normal and even healthy when children resist being bossed by another person.”

Here are some characteristics of bossy people.  They:

·         Want to have their way all the time.

·         Like to tell others what to do.

·         Think they know the best for everyone.

·         Expect others to obey them.

·         Try to bribe, threaten, or bribe others.

Maxwell goes on to describe qualities of true Servant Leadership.

1.      Puts others ahead of his own agenda.

2.      Possesses the confidence to serve

3.      Initiates service to others.

4.      Is not position conscious.

5.      Serves out of love.


Berry reminds of how temptations of being the boss can cause you to not “be a good person” and Maxwell reminds us of the high accountability that truly goes with successful servant leadership.  Many of the people that we lead would prefer to do something else; or not risk their lives; or not do what we want all of the time.  Even if it takes a quick reminder out of a children’s book, we shouldn’t forget that major leadership lesson.

 Linda Cureton, NASA CIO