„I work for Mary Smith“

When two colleagues meet and the one asks the other what they do in the company, it is typical for Americans to state who their boss is: „Oh, I work for Mary Smith.“ The next statement might be: „in the new product marketing“ or „in global supply chain“ or „in corporate finance.“

Americans work outwards from their work, their team, the organization in which the team is imbedded, and so on. It is also common in the U.S. to hear the statement that „your most important customer is your boss.“

American team leads have influence and power over their team: strategy, organizational structure, roles and responsibilities, and, of course, compensation and professional development. The relationship with the team lead is for the team member a very important one. It influences them very personally.

That working relationship, however, can also be one which extends beyond the workplace to their private lives. It‘s common for American colleagues to be friends, close friends, friends who do things together, whose spouses and children know each other. Americans mix their work and private lives. This can include the boss.

In fact, many Americans would say that the ideal team is made up of capable people, who work hard, support each other, reach their business goals, but in addition know and like each other outside of  work. Colleague and friend. Boss and friend.