[KHR] A Boss in a Quote

Dying Will Tsuna from the Reborn anime

“A boss is someone who puts his life on the line for his subordinates”

I found this quote again today, while finding myself wasting some time today on Tumblr. It was at the base of a photoset of the main protagonists of Katekyo Hitman Reborn, and despite having seen it time and time again, for the first time something struck me as very odd about it.

The more I think about it, the more unsure about this phrase I am. For most of the people I have known, they have interpreted this phrase as the literal meaning — that they should sacrifice themselves, that is die, for those that serve them. In many of the fanfictions and roleplays, you will see this literal meaning used as either this leader character has died, or they mourn that they failed their duty in protecting someone else.

But this first part doesn’t seem right to me, although the second is valid enough.

For a leader to die, that would be detrimental to their subordinates, particularly in this context. The subordinates’ duties are centred around their boss and leader, it would be a laugh in their face of their efforts if he died, not to mention they would have failed their duties.

However it would be appropriate for a leader to devote his life to his subordinates, to ensure that they can instill their confidence in him and depend on him just as he depends on them. It would be appropriate for him to do his utmost to ensure that this confidence is not misplaced, that he does all he can to make the right decisions to ensure their safety as well as his. At least in extreme contexts like this.

However it doesn’t make sense for such a leader to make rash decisions where he is risking his life for that of his subordinates. It doesn’t make sense for him to risk his own well-being or his own life for his subordinates, as this is both irresponsible and thoughtless.

His sub-ordinates, although named as such, are not considered below, or more important than himself, but rather as equals in a give-receive relationship, rather than one that simply takes.

Why do I think this leaders’ friends, rather than sub-ordinates, choose to follow him? It is not necessarily that this person acts rash and foolish at times, and has much to learn to be a real boss, but rather the fact that he does not view himself to be above anyone else, or above helping anyone, in fact much of the time he is the one being trodden on — which is likely why he can understand those who are also in similar situations. He will do what is within his power to help his friends, sometimes even if this means that he is putting himself in danger (this is the part he needs to work on further).

Of course, in our lifetime we may never be in such a context, and our world is one which values more the concepts of hierarchy, our offices are getting more flat and open-plan all the time, such that perhaps one day we do without such divisions of power and truly be more equal.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn is by Amano Akira, the anime by the studio Artland.