Quiz: Are You Really the Boss?

So, you've got a senior title, you've got the PA, the high-end company car and the corner office -- all the signs you are a powerful figure in the business. But, are you really one of the movers and shakers -- one of the people your CEO depends on to keep the company successful -- or are you really just keeping someone else's seat warm for them?

Here's a quiz that shows whether you are really the boss, or whether the real leaders just let you think you are.

Special thanks to David Pardy, senior manager, research and policy at the Institute of Leadership and Management for his help in compiling this quiz.

Some guidance was also taken from "Not Bosses But Leaders" by John Adair.
There are five questions to answer:


1 How stable is your working environment?
a) It can be difficult to predict what is going to happen in any given day.

b) Little happens out of the blue. You can predict what is going to happen for months.

c) Most of the time things are calm. There are occasional emergencies, but your boss is happy to give you advice to help you respond appropriately.

Click here to see the answers to question one.
(Pic: Manuel_Marin cc2.0)


Answers to Q1
a) Business is built on change. As a business leader, turbulence is a necessary part of your job. You've been placed in the eye of the whirlwind, so presumably you are expected to take hold of that turbulence and use it to your advantage commercially. 3 points
b) A structured and well ordered day is a big sign that your superiors don't think you can be trusted with emergencies or unexpected hiccups in the routine. It means your life is being organised for you and you are not in control. 1 point
c) If there is a chance of something unexpected coming up, it means you obviously have little fear of risk -- a necessary quality in business leaders. But looks like your superiors aren't entirely confident of your ability to cope and are making sure they are close at hand if you drop the ball. 2 points
Click here to go on to the next question.

2 You walk into your team's office area. They are all unusually quiet. When they see you, do they:
a) Ask you to help them deal with a relationship problem in the team? You stop their work briefly and get them to discuss their problem.

b) Look up at you, and appear very uneasy about something? You know someone will come and tell you if things are very bad.

c) Carry on working quietly and seem absorbed in their work? You expect them to sort out things between themselves, and not involve you with their petty disagreements.

Click here to see the answers to question two.


Answers to Q2
a) Your team sees you as someone they can approach. It's evident that you are able to empathise with their situations even though your role is different to theirs. These are both traits that are admired in business leaders and your team's behaviour suggests they see you as one. 3 points
b) It's obvious that there is a problem, but your team is reluctant to tell you about it, which is odd because it's part of your job to sort out problems. Are they afraid you might fly off the handle or start blaming people? Emotional intelligence -- the ability to deal with crises in a calm manner -- is highly valued in leaders. Unfortunately, your team doubts you have much of it. 1 point

c) Your team has a problem, but they can sort it out themselves. That's good in terms of productivity, but it also means your team has factored you out of the equation and started managing itself. If you show a lack of interest in them, they will start to do the same to you. 2 points

Click here to go on to the next question.

3 How easy do you think it is for you to make decisions?
a) Decision-making is the most important part of your job. Your team relies totally on your decisions.

b) Decision-making is a difficult part of your job. You always get the stickiest problems from your team.

c) Decision-making is easy. If there's anything difficult, you just imagine which way your boss would go and use that as a guide.

Click here to see the answers to question three.


Answers to Q3
a) Making decisions gives you the feeling you are in control. But the real trick is to let your team members make the decisions where they can. This gives you the space to concentrate on the big issues that only you can deal with. If you have to make a ruling on every thing your team does, it means they've got used to you micro-managing them. 2 points

b) Often, there are no good options in decision making -- it's a case of choosing the least bad alternative. If your team is taking those sorts of difficult decisions to you, it means they acknowledge your business wisdom, even though they are happy to make the more straightforward decisions themselves. 3 points
c) Making decisions is never easy -- your reputation as a business leader is put on the line every time you do so. If you aren't at all troubled by the decisions you are making, it probably means someone else is making those decisions for you and you are just their puppet. 1 point
Click here to go on to the next question.

4 Do your peers and seniors feel comfortable going to you for special projects?
a) People are confident in coming to you with projects because they know you'll always put the success of the company first.

b) People are happy to come to you with projects because they know that you'll do whatever it takes to get on in the company.

c) People are selective about which projects they bring to you because they know you'll insist it has to be done right, without cutting corners.

Click here to see the answers to question four.


Answers to Q4
a) The decisions you make are driven by your loyalty to the company. That's noble, but it may mean you put the interests of employees second. There is a danger that you could be manipulated into unethical practices for the sake of the business. 2 points
b) You're driven by the need for professional advancement. Leaders are ambitious, but there is a danger of you stepping on other people to get to the top. Worse still, unethical peers might co-opt you into something unsavoury with the temptation of a promotion in return. 1 point
c) Your integrity is very important to you, even if it means digging your heels in over a project you aren't sure about. People see that you are consistent about your values and know you won't be influenced into doing something you know is wrong. 3 points
Click here to go on to the next question.
5 How aware are you of what is going on in the company and do people defer to your knowledge?

a) I always know what's going on and I spend a lot of my time informing my team of what my boss has told me.

b) I don't always know what's going on and I spend a lot of my time talking to my team about what they are doing.

c) I usually know what's going on and I make sure anyone who needs to know something is informed.

Click here to see the answers to Question five.


Answers to Q5
a) For you, being a boss is all about being the font of all knowledge. If you always know what is going on, it's plain you don't expect any information to come from informal sources, like your team. You've become a mouthpiece for the official line that is handed down to you through the managerial hierarchy. 1 point
b) Acknowledging you don't know everything means you remain curious about the world around you. You get information from a variety of sources, not just the company line, and your team is happy to share their information with you. Not only is this a valuable gateway to the inside track, but it shows how your employees value your respect by sharing information with you. 3 points
c) You accept that not all information comes through official lines, but you don't actively gather that intelligence. Nor do you disseminate information unless someone asks for it. You are an informational dead space. 2 points
Click here to see how well you did.

Your score:
3-6 You may have the trappings of authority, but they do little more than trick you into thinking you're invaluable to the business. In reality, you are more likely to be the pawn of your superiors or managed-up by employees who cannot engage with you or who have little faith in your decision-making. Stamping your feet just makes it more obvious how little power you have.

7-11 You are obviously adding value to your business, but you may not be ready to take the helm just yet. Still, with experience and the right guidance, you could become one of the movers and shakers at work. The more you have faith in your own decisions and gain the respect of your employees, the more people around you will recognise your leadership potential.

12-15 You walk the walk. The way people behave around you demonstrates how much influence and authority you have within the business. You've realised that real leaders don't need to shout about it. If you aren't already in line to be the next CEO, you definitely have the right stuff for the top job.