My Less Important Subordinate - Leadership Skills

My Less Important Subordinate

It is important how we think about our colleagues, especially when we are spending with each other 1/3 of our lives. How and what we think, including self-talk, shapes our behaviour and our relationships. The quality of our results greatly depends on a simple, yet profound approach expressed by a single term; subordinate.

What Does It Actually Mean?

Instinctively I knew that something is just not right with that term.

The prefix sub- occurs in loanwords from Latin with the meanings “under,” “below,” “beneath,” “less than,” “not quite,” “secondary,” “at a lower point in the hierarchy.”  Let us flip the coin and see what’s on the other side. If our colleagues are subordinates than that implies that we are “above,” “higher,” “more of,” “spot on,” “primary,” etc. We are simply superior beings.

It Fells Good To Be a Superior

As much as it does feel great to be a superior, it can lead to self-indulgence and arrogance. How come this polite, energetic and self-confident individual turned into a bossy, autocratic and self-made dictator? If you ever come across a recently promoted manager you might just know what I mean. From my perspective, new powers and privileges work as amplifiers of one's character. These powers are simply too much to handle for some, as they surrender to the compulsiveness of their character.

Instead Of The Subordinate, I Prefer To Think About My Colleague As The Associate


It still implies the subordinate position but as a secondary meaning. Primarily, it refers to someone who is closely connected to another person as a companion, friend, or business partner. It is all about how the particular words resonate with us, and you can probably sense the difference.

Referring To Your Colleagues As The Associates Is The Completely Different Approach

It will influence your behaviour with a tacit respect and turn some of your connections into bonds. Showing respect to others is a good starting point for all real relationships to form and the great news is that it shall be returned. With such an approach, it will be easier to conduct team-building exercises, introduce changes to daily routines and solve interpersonal problems.


It is much easier to make better choices once you know the implications of your thinking patterns. The management skills require treating your team members as they might be your managers from tomorrow. Think about how you would like to be treated, as a subordinate or as an associate?

Martin May

Managing Director at Intelligent and Lazy Management Consulting. Coach, trainer, blogger. "How we say it is more important than what we say"

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