Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Boss": Incredibly Awesome; Miraculous; Great*

Imagine you work at a PR agency and your client calls you with an urgent request. "Hello, I've got an urgent request," he says.

Quickly, you run through all the possibilities in your head: it could be putting together a quick wrap-up report of all the coverage surrounding some random obscure thing an executive was supposedly quoted as saying sometime between May and October, maybe it's rescheduling that interview with the LA Times that has already been rescheduled five times in two weeks, or worse, maybe it's calculating media impressions broken out by key word. Please let it not be the impressions, you say to yourself. I hate that damn website.

Instead, he asks if you can make a run that afternoon to the Quiksilver store just around the corner (you try to hide the surprise in your voice, uh-huh, sounds doable so far ...), purchase Kelly Slater's new book, For The Love (sinch), and then get it signed. Slater will be there to autograph the book, he continues, so you might have to stand in a long line. He's kind of a big deal. (Ok, sure.) (Wait, what?!)

Two Decembers ago, that's exactly what happened. My boss was the client with the urgent request. I was the feeling-totally-guilty person needing the book signed (it was going to be a Christmas present for Hubs). The poor agency girl who took the call was herself, haha, nope that wasn't me ... and well, I guess I'll never know what went running through her head that day.

I promise this story has a point. Or, a question rather: What makes a good boss? Besides pulling strings for you to ensure his awesome gift idea for your spouse gets played out to perfection (yes, can you believe, those shenanigans were all his idea, not mine), what else is there? Let's talk about it.

In my opinion, a good boss/manager is a good leader. First of all, let's clarify that a person may be a manager, but a terrible leader. On the flip side, a person may be a leader (as I'm sure we all are to some capacity), but not yet a "manager." How would you define a leader vs. a manager? To me, leaders inspire. Leaders are experts. And leaders motivate. And last but not least, leaders have followers. Truly, it's the leaders who make the best managers.

Secondly, a good manager puts 100% trust in his direct reports. He knows without doubt that they'll get the job done on time and with acute attention to detail. Have you ever had a boss who micro-manages? It's the worst! It's not only annoying, but it brings down your confidence. You can't help but ask yourself, "Why does my manager feel the need to constantly check up on me? Am I really that bad at my job?" Luckily, I have a boss who trusts me.

And third, a good boss keeps you in the loop. He is honest and open about projects and provides the big picture instead of just handing you petty assignments that you have no idea why he's asking for it or what for. Or when there's changes happening, he explains why and tells you, "This is everything I know, I'll let you know more when I do." He confides in you as if you're equals, not he the big fish and you the guppie.

Which brings me to the sad fact that I am losing the best manager, boss, leader, however you want to put it, I've ever had. Things are changing for me right now. It's been a rough few weeks, and the most devastating part is having to say good-bye.

(No, neither of us were fired, phew. Maybe will save it for another post.)

* Did you get my clever double meaning? :)


Rebecca Watson said...

i totally agree a good boss should be a leader!!! I have a really good boss and im blessed to work in an environment where i can excel!! :)

Ellen said...

I totally agree with your definitions of leader vs. manager. I once had a boss who was a great manager, but TERRIBLE leader. She ran a tight ship and kept everything on track, but had zero ideas of her own and could never make a decision on, well, anything. She was so uninspiring, I ended up quitting that comfy, secure job to take a risky freelance job. I ended up getting the boot from that job, but I'm still happier than I was before! There's nothing worse than being bored and complacent.

eemusings said...

My boss is leaving, too, and I'm devastated! I've never had a more supportive manager, who recognised our strengths and wanted us to succeed. I don't know how anyone could live up to the bar he's set.

Anonymous said...

If many of these anecdotes are hypothetical- why is the hypothetical boss gendered male? Working girls can be bosses too...