How extraordinary are you?

I loved this Inc. magazine article about being an extraordinary boss.

It outlined the 8 core beliefs of extraordinary bosses, and it resonated with me because I think of myself as a work-in-progress as a boss.


People have told me I’m a good boss – which I translate as being a good teacher, coach and advocate for people. I have great pride in those instances – for me in my performance, for our accomplishments as a team toward our organizational goals, and especially when I see “my peeps” grow and succeed. One of my favorite boss moments was when one of my direct reports – a women I consider a virtuoso talent – left our firm for bigger horizons and greater opportunities – and I asked her to please hire ME someday. I knew she was going to make a great boss.

I’ve also had some failures. I can think of instances where I simply didn’t deliver. I could come up with all kinds of reasons to rationalize this, like times when I’ve been overloaded with so much work that I neglected my boss duties. I could be introspective and admit there have been times when I made a poor hiring decision and didn’t address it quickly enough. I’ve been told a time or two I’m too hard on people.

If we’re truly honest, I think most of us would admit sometimes it’s easier to be a good boss when you work well with someone, when you believe in their talents and abilities and value their contributions.

I’ve also been on the other end of things – I’ve had several extraordinary bosses, and I’ve taken valuable lessons from them. The first was very early in my career, a man I’ve always described as the person who taught me “everything that is important” in business. Wow. How much luckier can someone get?

Doesn’t everyone want an extraordinary boss? I believe that a person can weather anything on the job – sales setbacks, unhappy clients/customers/donors/members, mistakes large and small, corporate politics – if their relationship with their immediate supervisor is strong.

I think the inverse is also true – it doesn’t matter how much you like your work or how committed you are to your mission – if your relationship with your immediate supervisor isn’t good, it can derail everything else and spoil your work experience. And it can poison the environment for others around you as well.

Funny enough, it seems we expect a bad work environment. Quick, how many pop culture references can you rattle off about bad bosses? My personal favorites? Miranda Priestly from the book (and movie) The Devil Wears Prada, and Wilhelmina Slater, from the TV show Ugly Betty. Goodness knows there are ample more to choose from.

Now list your favorite good boss examples. They are out there, but I had to Google “good bosses” when I came up empty-handed on my own.

Some would suggest that a work environment where bosses respect their staff and nurture a positive work environment can’t successfully co-exist with achieving financial objectives or mission success. (Perhaps the most notable example of this view is in the recent Steve Jobs biography). I say that’s nonsense.

Productivity, innovation and excellence thrive in the best work environments, and people gravitate toward it, want to be a part of it and want to contribute to it.

What about you?

  • What did your best boss do that made your work life remarkable?
  • What did you achieve in this environment?
  • Have you adopted and applied any of those practices yourself for your own staff?

I’d love to hear from you about your extraordinary boss journey!


About Gayle Davey

I'm fascinated about the "business of conducting business": how organizations function, how they can be higher performing, how personalities drive culture... great stuff worth thinking about!
This entry was posted in Culture, Organizational Development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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