I came into the world of work with my collected set of biases, prejudices and borrowed opinions and a viewpoint that was further influenced by 12 years of intensive martial arts training. My experiences in that sphere had taught me to automatically respect any instructor from a known or well-regarded school; to critically evaluate anyone else who wore a black belt and to quickly determine whether they had any real skill or knowledge.
(Martial arts master or noodle chef from your local Szechuan restaurant?)

Therefore, when I was introduced to my first ‘Marketing Director’ it never occurred to me to assume that he was the be-all and end-all of skill or knowledge in his chosen profession. I observed him closely and mentally gave him marks out of 10 for his knowledge and professionalism. And then I met another one, and another, and another, and I was quickly able to evaluate and rank them.

I was stunned to discover that none of my cohorts were doing this. They saw the title on the business card and automatically bowed their heads. I quickly got a reputation for being … forthright. And I had one major stroke of luck – my boss thought that this was very refreshing and didn’t stick her heel on my throat and press down.

I was poached twice in my first year out of college; each time by a confident, secure boss with whom I very much enjoyed working. My difficulty arose the first time I worked for an insecure person, who felt that titles were everything and who did his utmost to keep all of his staff off-balance most of the time. Not a pretty picture.

How much of the respect you give (and the respect you feel you deserve) stems from the title on the business card? Careful! The person you are kowtowing to may just be a noodle chef …