Working 12 to 18 hours a day was not uncommon for scientists at the rocket launching station, Thumba. A group of such scientists was frustrated due to the work pressure and meeting their boss’ demands; however, they were loyal to him.
One day, a scientist gathered enough courage to go up to his boss and say, “Sir, I have promised my children that I will take them to the exhibition this evening. Therefore, I have to leave the office at 5.30 pm. Can I leave early today, Sir?”
His boss replied, “Alright. You may leave early today.”
The scientist was happy for having received the permission and went on to continue his work. He stayed on to work after lunch, and, as always, got so engrossed in his work, that he peered at his watch only when he thought he was done. Unfortunately, it was past 08:15 pm.
With a jolt, he remembered his promise to his children. He looked for his boss who was not in his office. Having told him just that morning, he wrapped up work and hurried home.
As he drove home, he felt very guilty for having let his children down. When he reached, the children were not at home. His wife was busy reading. He felt that initiating any conversation with her would only add fuel to fire, so he stayed quiet.
Looking up at him, his wife asked, “Do you want something hot to drink or have dinner right away?”
The man could only ask, “Where are the children?”
His wife said, “Don’t you know? Your boss came here at 5.15 pm and took the children to the exhibition you had promised to take them to.”
He was surprised, but, it did not take him too long to guess what had happened.
The boss who granted him permission had observed him working very seriously well past 5.00 pm. He must have thought that the scientist would not leave the work half done, but if he has promised his children a visit to the exhibition, then they deserve it. So, he took the lead in taking them to the exhibition himself.
The boss does not have to do it every time. But once it is done, loyalty is established.
No wonder, all scientists at Thumba continued to work under this boss in spite of the great pressure.
This boss was none other than Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007.
(This post was originally published on Mar 26, 2014.)