Someone asked me recently about my favorite bosses. I thought of several people. Each had an attribute I valued. At the same time, you are not going to find everything in the same person. So my ideal boss would be a composite of these traits.
Respect is key.
One boss I revere for this one trait alone. When we talked about my career aspirations she didn’t blink when it became obvious my needs would not be met by staying with our employer. She showed support for me making the right decision, while supporting me getting my job done at the same time. In contrast I had a supervisor who battered me with baloney about all the ways I could fit my square-peg self into the round-hole of opportunities available to me. When it became clear to him I wasn’t going to fit long-term he told me he regretted having promoted me, as if it was wasted on me.
You could call boss #1’s trait empathy, but I call it respect for two reasons. She respected that I knew what was best for me. Her non-judgmental attitude reflected that she respected I was entitled to have other aspirations. Just because I was working with that particular employer at that time did not make me unwilling to give my all while I was there, simply because I wanted something else eventually.
We are in partnership.
I was pleasantly surprised when one supervisor brought up my development and my career trajectory without me asking. In retrospect I appreciated that he did not try to steer me toward his agenda. He asked good questions and listened to understand. I felt like we were in partnership regarding my career. Compare this to the boss who told me he had an assignment for me in another city, 400 miles away. I would be relocating and starting in February. This was early in my career. I didn’t know I could object, or talk it through. Twenty-five years later I’m still flummoxed by how that was presented to me.
A matter of trust.
I started out as an IT professional. Over time I transitioned to an HR position, while earning my Master’s in HR. Of all my positions in corporate America, this was my favorite. The boss who gave me my first HR job gave me significant autonomy. He noticed what I was good at. He gave me the latitude to address what I thought needed attention. He took the time to get to know me. He observed how I handled myself. He came to trust me.
That is one thing what led him to offer me the assignment. I knew my limits. Within that fence I knew what I could do without asking permission. It was gratifying to be trusted, and have my decisions backed up.
As I said, no one boss is going to have all of the ideal traits of a good supervisor, but if he or she has enough, it can make work a dream.
If you could build your own ideal supervisor, what traits would you include?
About the Author: Mary Schaefer is an empowerment expert, coach, trainer, consultant speaker and writer. Her background as an HR manager keeps her plugged in to what works and what doesn’t in handling the employee/manager relationship in today’s workplace. You can find more of Mary’s articles, and how to work with her here.
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