One of the questions I love to ask my clients is to “Think about a good boss you had. And who is in that thought bubble?”And then we talk about “why”, and what characteristics they have.
I have had some great bosses over the years, and so I have a few people in my thought bubble. I met up with one recently. She was a great manager that I had when I was working for IBM. I was a newbie, working for a great company, with some very talented peers. I honestly wondered how I had snuck in and I was worried I had fooled people and I would be found out!
I reflect and think about how my boss had so many leadership characteristics that helped and influenced me to succeed then, and still influence me today. I’d like to share a few of those – because I think they are so important.
#1: She believed in me. I know she had my best interests in mind. I know that when I left the room, she still spoke of me the same way she did when I was in the room. And I know she did the same for the other people we worked with.
#2: Trust. We had mutual trust. I trusted her, and I know she trusted me. She trusted and entrusted me to be professional, to get my work done, to be accountable. And it was important to me to protect and respect this trust. I didn’t want to lose it.
#3: She empowered me. This was a great opportunity and lesson. Her style was not micromanaging. This was risky, but oh so inspiring. I could run with projects and ideas, and when they were successful – this was confidence-building and exhilarating!
#4: She provided training, development and growth opportunities. IBM was fast-moving, and we worked hard and worked hard at learning. It was essential to be credible and be a subject matter expert. And by investing in us, we felt very valued.
#5: She practiced and encouraged open honest communication. This is probably where I first learned of the power of feedback. For example, I remember her telling me I could be rather quiet in meetings, and to be aware of the perception that it could create. It might suggest that I was disengaged. It was enlightening and insightful feedback. It encouraged me to be more assertive and to be prepared and confident about sharing my voice and perspective.
#6: We had fun. As said, we worked hard, but we had fun. She had a sense of humour and it came to work with her every day. I definitely had the opportunity to work in a culture of fun, and to this day, I happily incorporate that into what I do.
#7: Accept Change and Be Positive. IBM went through so many changes and reorganizations, and I remember how sad I was when she was no longer my boss. Yet she accepted and facilitated change and did so with a positive attitude and finesse. And she left a legacy that is still with me today, and one that I hope to share with others.
And so, fast forward and imagine that the people you have worked with are asked that question; “Think of a good boss”.
And will you be in anyone’s “Good Boss Thought Bubble?”