Being the best boss possible

I’ve had some pretty dubious bosses, I’ve also had some pretty awesome bosses. The truth is, it’s often never about money or climbing the corporate ladder but simply knowing that you’ve done a great job. I found a perfect example of this. An employee gets summoned to their managers office:

“Come with me,” my supervisor said. “The plant manager wants to see you.”


We arrived and my supervisor knocked on the open door. The plant manager looked up, glanced down at a note pad, then looked back up and said, “Uh… hello Jeff. Come in.”


It turned out he wanted to congratulate me for some productivity improvement suggestions I made.


He didn’t know what those improvements actually were, though, so he talked about how shop floor employees were the real foundation of the company. Then he went to what I later realized was his go-to teamwork speech about the three-legged stool (if one leg breaks the stool tips over), and sent me on my way.


At the time I was tickled. I had never spoken to him before and thought it was cool he congratulated me in person. I knew he needed to look at his note pad to remember my name, but hey, that was okay.

The average boss wants to tick a box and say they’ve congratulated their employee on a job well done. Contrast this to the next example:

One day, to everyone’s surprise, our CEO showed up at the facility.

He headed straight for me. “Hi, Jeff,” he said. “I’m John. I’m in town for the Board of Directors meeting and really wanted to meet you and thank you for everything you’ve done. You guys are ahead of schedule, the customer is delighted, productivity is better than we anticipated… I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your hard work. Do you have time to introduce me to everyone?”

On the surface we have a situation where a boss is taking the time to congratulate an employee on a job well done. The difference though is massive: in example one the manager sent for the worker, had to look at his name on a list and didn’t even know why he was really handing out congratulations. In the second example the CEO of the company took the time to find the employee, congratulate him for something specific and didn’t just think of him as a number.

For me this is a great lesson in leadership. Don’t think of yourself as the boss and therefore an island, you’re part of a team regardless of the level of your job or the size of your paycheck.

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