Home > Leadership and Management > The chair that regrets

The chair that regrets

By G. Balasubramanian

Have you seen a chair in regret? Have you seen the kind of sounds it makes when it has a slight movement? Do you think it is inviting you to tell its story? You may not believe it. But I have seen chairs which appear to live in pain.

Just two days before when I read a news item reporting the research of a team about the sounds made by plants when they are not watered for a few days, when they are not touched for a few days and when they feel oppressed and tense, it was a startling news. But if I could accept that, I do not see any reason why I should not believe that the chair in pain or regret.

Oftentimes, it is uncomfortable with the people who occupy them, it is a mute witness to illegal or immoral things done by who they host. They are a witness to many things which they do not like. They feel like throwing out the people who are seated. But they are helpless. They are powerless. They are ordained to execute what their masters say!

“A chair's function is not just to provide a place to sit; it is to provide a medium for self-expression. Chairs are about status, for example. Or signaling something about oneself. That is why the words chair, seat and bench have found themselves used to describe high status professions, from academia to Parliament to the law.” Says Evan Davis, a senior journalist. A chair embodies some value and respect.

Many of us love to occupy a chair we value. Many of us tend to associate our status, our dignity, our profile and our power with the chair we sit in. We do not really understand that a small wooden piece or a steel structure with a cushion does bring any of the things that we associate with it. As such it is we who carry these to the chair. We decorate the chair with values. And these decors continue to live with the chair even after the occupant has left it as a value. “Gentleman, the chair that you are going to occupy has a heritage and history. You need to cherish it.” I am sure many of us would have heard these words often when we moved from one chair to the other. For those who want to occupy that chair in future, are expected to reflect those values as a basic norm. And if one does not, the chair regrets!

“Every chair should be a throne and hold a king” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is indeed true! Whatever the position in the ladder or hierarchy of any organization, every single chair is a throne for the person who is a king in that skill, one brings proficiency, excellence, promise, value and integrity to the chair. So, organization and people in people in the organization should value the chair not by any designation that is attached to the chair, but the values reflected through the chair. “Listen to the Chair Leg of Truth! It does not lie!” says Warren Ellis, the novelist. One of the challenges in any organization is differentiation of human resources depending on where the chair is placed in its landscape. It is important that people should be evaluated in terms of their key performance areas, it does not matter what chair they hold! (You may agree to disagree!!)

I recall an incident in early seventies, when a senior politician holding a post in governance was invited to an institution for its annual day, after the program, the guest was taken to the room of the principal and was requested by the principal to make a note on the VIP visitors’ book. He sat down on the chair of the Head of the institution and obliged the request. As he got up and walked out, the chairperson of the organization in his mid-eighties told the guest that he should avoid sitting in the chair of the Head of the institution. He said ‘you can sit anywhere, but not in the official chair, and no one else should sit on that for whatever reason. I was surprised, but that was a lesson to me and during my visit to any organization for official discharge of work, I declined to sit on the chair of the authority who held the position even as they insisted! The chairs deserve a unique respect. “Why bother choosing a certain chair? Because that chair says something about you.” says David Bowie

There are many people who deeply regret when they do not get the chair they desire, and a few get into depression. They deserve a lesson on the architecture of the chair of efficiency or effectivity and compare it with the architecture of the wooden chair! “The discontented man finds no easy chair” says Benjamin Franklin.

There are many who miss a cozy chair of authority, but bring luster and visibility to the chair they occupy and make a lasting impact! How can one forget the former President Abdul Kalam, who carried the respect of the chair he sat to every place where he went!

Well, after the rat race one participates in the musical chair in organizations, he is destined to go home without the chair he occupied creating history! No organization gives that chair as freebie to its occupant when they go! He must rest on the rocking chair at home reflecting on the sound and fury he made sitting on the official chair. Believe me, the chair he occupied never regrets that!