(Originally published in Eternity in 2009/10)


Do job titles matter?

A friend of mine – I’ll call him Steve – recently started a new job. This was good news, he had been retrenched, and it was great to have any job, but more than this, he had by God’s grace landed a job with increased responsibility – Steve had a team of five to lead.

A good job, with some lead lining – two of the team had wanted his job, as had another older man in the organization.

For the two in the team there was no shortcut, just consistent good leadership and communication, hoping over time to win them.

But for the older man – let’s call him Bruce – Steve was able to do something more immediate. He realized that the Bruce didn’t really want the job of Team Leader. That is, he wasn’t particularly interested in leading people and it wasn’t a matter of money – he was already getting paid more than Steve as the team leader. Rather Bruce wanted role because he wanted the respect that came with the role.

So Steve negotiated with his manager to give Bruce a new title. At first Bruce was coy about the change – there is no respect  in admitting you would like respect – but this was soon replaced with appreciation.

Of course if the title change had been an attempt to create an appearance where there was no reality, it would had been received as a fraud. But Bruce was older the team Steve led, he was more experienced, more skilled and was certainly paid a lot more – yet he shared the same title with them. The new title gave everyone a way to say what they already knew to be true. The new title gave respect.

Steve had tapped into two great truths: the sheer goodness of respecting those who are older; and the power of words – to at once express and reinforce reality.