Being married doesn't make one a better boss

Being married doesn't make one a better boss

Summary: As a single living in Singapore, you can't buy a government-subsidized flat until you hit 35. Even then, you're permitted to purchase only second-hand flats and not newly-built ones from the housing board authorities, which are typically cheaper.

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As a single living in Singapore, you can't buy a government-subsidized flat until you hit 35. Even then, you're permitted to purchase only second-hand flats and not newly-built ones from the housing board authorities, which are typically cheaper.

It's my government's way of urging its citizens to tie the knot and live happily ever--or not--so I get it and try not to regard it as a form of discrimination against singles.

But, I took issue over a statement someone recently made that unmarried workers don't make good bosses because they lack the experience of being in a relationship. And as such, don't know how to manage relationships with their colleagues.

It's an easy assumption to make, but it's also a sorely misguided one. I've worked with several bosses over the years and those whom I appreciated most were not married.

I can just as easily assume married people to be selfish and incapable of being good bosses because they are focused only on managing one relationship--with their spouse--and often do so at the expense of their relationships with others, such as their family and friends. How often have we heard about someone snapping at his parents in order to keep his wife happy?

In fact, I would argue that singles make better bosses because they recognize the need to maintain multiple relationships. Because they lack a better half, they're likely to invest more time and effort maintaining close ties with their family members as well as circle of friends.

It is this experience of managing connections with multiple personalities, and amid different environments, which enables unmarried bosses to be more understanding and to manage their staff with more empathy.

In the tech world, being married is like having exclusive agreements and relying on servicing a major contract with only one, albeit lucrative, business partner. The company enjoys massive returns from the association, especially if the deal is with a business partner that sees high user demand in the market, because it is assured of maximum payback due to the exclusivity.

And because of the high benefits, it dedicates all its time and effort nurturing the relationship to ensure the business partner remains contented enough to carry on the exclusive association. All's well and good until of course, the latter decides to end the relationship. The company is then left stranded without a viable business partner because it had invested all its energy on one partner and neglected to cultivate ties with other market players.

This post isn't meant to be an anti-marriage tirade and I'm not trying to make a case for polygamy...don't even think about it. The point I'm trying to make is that it's important to always strike a balance when dealing with personal and business relationships.

There's nothing wrong with inking close ties with a handful of business partners but this shouldn't come at the expense of neglecting potential links to other lucrative players in the market.

The same applies to how we all manage our relationships. Spouses should absolutely dedicate more attention to their loved ones, after all they'd vowed to love and honor in sickness and in health, but if they did so by sacrificing their relationships with family and friends, they may find themselves alone when their marital union ends.

When was the last time you spent time catching up with your parents and friends over dinner?

Topics: Singapore, Emerging Tech, Health, Legal, Asean, IT Employment

About

Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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5 comments
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  • This view on single bosses is the same stupid argument as the one that says Julia Gillard is not fit to be Prime Minister of Australia because she's not a mother and can't possibly understand what life is like for families. Same for Condoleeza Rice who apparently wasn't fit to be U.S. Secretary of State because she's not a mother and therefore can't understand what it is like to send your son off to war. Extreme example perhaps, but does the surgeon treating cancer need to have experienced it themselves to have empathy and do a good job? No, and no-one would expect it. I like your idea of drawing a line between the personal and the professional, Eileen.
    susanm1
  • I couldn't agree more...I recently had many an interesting conversation with friends and colleagues on the very same topic when I turned 35. In many western societies there are laws against ageism and sexism; in Singapore and other Asian cultures there should be a label for "single-ism" discrimination as the discriminatory conditions are very apparent. In addition, some of us would agree that single employee lose out in benefits - for example, why does a singleton receive $1,000 in medical benefits, versus a married employee who gets $2,000 to cater for his family. Do married people work harder than singles to warrant that discrepancy? If anything, married employees have more reasons (sometimes excuses) to cater to larger responsibilities in their lives - a sick child who needs attention, spousal duties and restrictions in travelling for work, or inability to work long hours if they have to pick up their kids. In fact, single people should be paid more for the flexibility and longers hours put in (and no need to obtain "permission" to travel)! LOL.

    I've had my share of bosses across US and Asia, one favourite boss/mentor was single (and still is 10 years later), while another lovely manager is married. I've also had an absolutely horrible manager who was single. So, in the mix of male and female, single and married, Asian or Westen bosses, I've concluded it boils down to personalities - NOT marital status. Being married does not make you more mature or cleverer. It's just a choice.

    Jokes aside, I don't want to turn this into a Sumiko Tan-esque sentiment, but it's time our society acknowlegdes that it's not a crime or disability to be single. For those of us who enjoy singlehood, life is very good indeed.
    manutdet
  • "In fact, I would argue that singles make better bosses because they recognize the need to maintain multiple relationships. Because they lack a better half, they're likely to invest more time and effort maintaining close ties with their family members as well as circle of friends.

    It is this experience of managing connections with multiple personalities, and amid different environments, which enables unmarried bosses to be more understanding and to manage their staff with more empathy.

    In the tech world, being married is like having exclusive agreements and relying on servicing a major contract with only one, albeit lucrative, business partner. The company enjoys massive returns from the association, especially if the deal is with a business partner that sees high user demand in the market, because it is assured of maximum payback due to the exclusivity. "

    is logical but not true
    bizchalla@...
  • I total agree that being married does not automatically make a person a better boss. Neither would I say being single makes you better recognize the need to maintain multiple relationships.

    Being married means having to maintain balance of your spouse, your in-laws, your parents, your children (if you have any) and your own mental health. No easy task. But then again being married doesn't mean you juggle those relationships well ... you could be just coping and it's your spouse who is maintaining the harmony...

    As manutdet says, it boils down to personalities. Certain personalities just manages the role/relationship better than others. Being single or married has nothing to do with it.
    mingnow
  • My opinion why married employee gets $2,000 to cater his familiy. Married people have more big responsible in his life, of course need more money to maintain a good and health familiy. He/she should rise a same or better generation from their children. Better generation not only get by education but both parent atention (love, etc). I ask you all, lets the single get better money in medical benefits than the married, but we get worse next generation... let be blessed the married person for he/she will rise good/better generation.
    donny_samuel@...