Sucking up to the boss

The other day, after the dean had approved a reporting trip for one of my students, the student said to me privately, “I’m not very good at expressing gratitude. Maybe I should write him a card?”

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Van King when he was newspaper publisher and I was editor.

Van King

Van and I had our disagreements because, well, he was a publisher and I was an editor. We were supposed to disagree some of the time. But I knew he always had my back because he was, at his core, a journalist.

This time — I don’t remember what — he had done something good, and I wanted him to know it.

“Van,” I said, “I don’t want to be a suck-up here but –.”

“Oh, go ahead,” Van said. “Nobody ever sucks up to me. Even publishers need to be told they did something right.”

It’s an inverse corollary of “victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan.” In this case, leadership mistakes are met with catcalls, and success met with silence.