How to Be Someone’s Best Boss Ever

Posted 08.22.2023

Very few of us wake up in the morning with the goal of making someone else’s day more difficult. On the other hand, I doubt many of us wake up with the goal of making someone else’s day great. My guess is most of us wake up with the goal of taking care of whatever is on the to-do list for the day and then get on with our business.

That’s kind of a shame because that extra intention of making someone else’s day great is a force multiplier. The way you make people feel determines in large part how they act. And the way they act determines the quality of the results that they create.

So, acting with the intention of making someone else’s day great has much broader benefits. That’s true for any of us but it’s especially true for designated leaders and, because of the ripple effect they have, it’s even more true for senior leaders. As I say and write all the time, leaders control the weather. If you’re a designated leader, however you show up and engage is highly predictive of how the people on your team are going to perform.

What’s interesting to me is it doesn’t take extraordinary behaviors to make someone’s day a little bit better if not great. Over the past 20 plus years, I’ve asked thousands of leaders to think about their best boss ever and then tell me what those bosses did to be their best boss ever. The list of behaviors is almost always the same. The best bosses ever:

  • Listen.
  • Have their teams’ backs.
  • Coach and develop their team members.
  • Provide opportunities to grow.
  • Provide context and direction.
  • Give their teams room to run.
  • Allocate resources against priorities.
  • Provide support and air cover.
  • Keep their cool.

So, if you’re a designated leader what do you do with that list of best boss ever behaviors? Here’s a suggestion – print it out, look at it each morning, and ask yourself, “What’s coming up today where I need to practice one or more of these behaviors?”

It’s a simple practice that will almost certainly make someone’s day better. You may not know it in the moment, but if you’re consistent with the practice you’ll see the results over time. And then, a few years from now when someone like me asks a group of leaders to think of their best boss ever someone in that group is going to think of you.

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