Future bosses reflect on what makes for a good leader

Are you a good boss? Best-selling author Tom Peters writes, “anyone who takes on any leadership job, minor or major, assumes no less than a sacred trust. This sacred trust is all about what organizations are all about: the professional (and, to some extent, personal) development of people. Sure, the boss’s job is to ‘get the job done,’ and done effectively. But ‘boss-hood’ primarily entails an abiding responsibility for the people under your charge.”

Too often, small business owners don’t spend enough time thinking about this fundamental question — when the answer is critical to the long-term success of their business. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily challenges of operating a business and forget that constant effort is needed to improve as the leader of your enterprise.

This past week we discussed with students in a management class at Everett Community College this issue framed around a single question: “What does a good boss look like?”

We thought our readers would find the perspective of our future business leaders interesting and helpful on a topic so essential to business success. Here are some of their thoughts:

“To me, being a good boss and a good leader means building positive relationships that inspire and create a positive, trustful atmosphere. I think being a boss is not to be too bossy, but to be a leader that cares, understands, and works to get the best from everyone. I admire and respect the boss that allows others to lead and make suggestions that are actually adopted.”

— Mary Andrews

“A good boss searches for specific talents and skills that are needed and then assembles those talents, so an employee or employees understand their role within the company.”

— Christina Darlewon

“The best leader takes the role of a mentor. Discipline is used to coach, asking questions gains clarity—tailoring a response to improve my skills. He teaches that if you can’t have fun at what you do, you are not doing it right.”

— Shane Warbus

“A good boss is patient and can explain a task so that it can be understood. He or she is slow to anger when someone new doesn’t quite understand and asks questions that may sound stupid.”

— Justin Kroeger

“A good boss has compassion for all employees, treats everyone as equals and values everyone’s opinion.”

— Duane Lesh

“Takes the time to listen to questions and concerns even if I have no authority to change them. This will give me the feeling of being a part of a team and my suggestions have merit. Patience can go a long way in an office and knowing my boss will back me up gives me the confidence to do my job well.’’

— Brandi Montreuil

“She was a good boss because she always pushed us to do our best and was always concerned about us.”

— Wanda Hayes

“She knew that we were not just cogs in the machine. We were people with flaws and huge potential, and if she helped us reach our potential, we would be more successful in helping her reach her goal as well.”

— Andrew Bydalek

We find the words of the students an important reminder that the work to improve leadership and management skills is challenging, but will pay big dividends in improving your business.

Take a moment and think about your best bosses. What did you learn from them? Strong leadership can improve your business now, encourage retention and inspire future bosses.

Pat Sisneros is the Vice President of College Services at Everett Community College. Juergen Kneifel is an Associate Faculty in the EvCC Entrepreneurship program. Please send your comments to entrepreneurship@everettcc.edu

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