Are You a Best Boss? Four Ways to Tell

August 2, 2022 Ann Phillips

The Great Resignation has been fueled by people who are fed up working for leaders who don’t care about them and who aren’t willing to give them what they need to succeed. And with so many more employment opportunities and options available today, why should anyone settle for being treated the same old way?

The bad boss has been exposed. Organizations everywhere are looking for leaders who create optimally motivating environments where people grow, learn, and thrive.

Enough about bad bosses.  Let’s talk about best bosses.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve asked thousands of working adults to tell me about the person they felt was their best boss—the boss they trusted the most, who had their best interests at heart, and who set them up to win with the tools and resources they needed. See how their top four answers match up with the person you would call your best boss, and consider what today’s leaders could learn from the advice people have shared with me over the years regarding bringing out the best in others.

  1. My best boss met my needs to be appreciated and understood.

We all need to be appreciated and to be understood. We look for this in all situations. If we don't find it, we become demotivated and disengaged. Today's leaders need to recognize and meet this need, which is especially acute since the pandemic began. Everyone is a bit beat up. The simple solution is, as Ken Blanchard says, “Catching people doing something right.”

  1. My best boss shared information about themselves—they were vulnerable.

At Blanchard we have a program called Leadership Point of View (LPOV), which teaches managers to identify the beliefs and values that shape their approach to leading others. Leaders are encouraged to share their LPOV with their employees. Your LPOV teaches people what you expect from yourself—and from them.

I have a confession. I borrowed my Leadership Point of View from a movie titled Dave, circa 1993. The movie is a comedy about an individual who was impersonating the role of the president of the United States. At the end of the movie, during the State of the Union address, this is what he says:

“I ought to care more about you than I do about me. I ought to care more about what’s right than I do about what’s popular. I ought to be willing to give up this whole thing for something I believe in.”

Although the movie was a simple comedy, I was so struck by those words. I remember sitting in the theater thinking about how those words represented how I wanted to be viewed as a leader.

Leaders need to be clear about their beliefs and values for leading, because those beliefs and values serve as guideposts for behaviors.

  1. My best boss listened to be influenced.

Listening is a behavior most closely correlated to people feeling supported by their leaders. Learning to listen is one of the fundamental skills we teach in our programs—and yes, it’s learned behavior.  Listening to learn, to understand, and especially to be influenced is a skill. For most of us, our natural inclination is to listen to respond, to give advice, to solve the problem, to share information about ourselves.  But when you listen to be influenced, you’re listening with the willingness to think differently or make a different decision based on what the speaker is saying.

The challenge is about more than listening. It is about the willingness to let go of our own perspectives and consider another person’s viewpoint.

  1. My best boss sets clear and compelling goals.

For years in our training sessions, we used the phrase “All good performance begins with clear goals.” Recently, we’ve gone out of our way to include the word compelling. Now we say, “All good performance begins with clear and compelling goals.” The word compelling captures the importance of motivation in accomplishing goals. We recognize that now more than ever, there needs to be agreement on what a good job looks like and a sensitivity for the level of motivation for the goal—because feelings impact behavior.  

Leaders are facing a new world; one where individuals are expecting them to care, share, listen, and support performance. By using these skills, they can meet people where they are, provide direction and support as needed, and help people succeed spectacularly.

About the Author

Ann Phillips

Ann Phillips is a Senior Consulting Partner for Blanchard® with more than 20 years of diverse business experience. Drawing on a deep understanding of human and organizational dynamics, Ann creates powerful and positive changes for the clients she works with. Ann received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific and her master’s degree in management, with an emphasis in organizational change and transformation, from John F. Kennedy University.

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