You Gotta Server Somebody

I’ve had a fair few jobs in my day (young as I am) and have been under the leadership of many people. I’ve had good, bad , and ugly managers who acted the way they did for a variety of reasons. It’s usually pretty easy to tell when you are going to get along with a manager.  Usually those people are ones you like to work with.

I believe its worth explaining the types of bosses I like and dislike. If for no other reason, I feel like it helps identify how I would act in their position.


The Good

I value managers who can do the work themselves. Every good manager I’ve had wasn’t someone who sat around the sidelines and directed. They were always ready to jump in along side every grunt and help make sure work got done. Usually these are people who started in low positions and worked their way up, since they know the hardships the minions go through.

Conversely, I find people who are placed in high positions without having been a peon themselves usually are bad bosses.

The Bad

One of my lease favorite traits in employers/managers/leaders/bosses are those who are most willing to abandon their underlings. Throwing employees under the bus to save face is one of the most common things I’ve had to deal with in work. I’m talking about situations where a customer was freaking out about company rules. When the manager is asked to come resolve the conflict they simply give the customer what they want. All this does is make your employee look bad and encourage customers to make a fuss and demand management when something doesn’t go their way.

I’ve also had managers who seemed like bad managers but they simply had their hands tied. That’s not the fault of the manager, and really sucks when a company is structured in a way that forces mismanagement.

The Ugly

The absolutely worst managers I’ve had fallen into this category. They include people who usually acted as a bureaucratic force rather than part of the team. People who actually didn’t show up and then (basically committed fraud) by writing in their own hours as having been their the whole time. They also manipulated the scheduled to give themselves the best days off, take more vacation, and harm the actual productivity of the company.

Ugly managers are also people who are too full of themselves to allow their word to be questioned. Especially on matters they don’t know about. Things like ignoring an employee who was a nursing student during a first aid emergency. Or not letting a person with IT experience work correctly because they believe that something ought to be done a certain way.


The Leadership Take-Away

In conclusion, I think the important things that a boss should do are:

  • understand the work that has to be done
  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of your team/team members
  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Don’t throw those working under you, under the bus
  • Even if you are allowed, don’t manipulate the working circumstances in your favor constantly
  • Involve your employees (I.e employee more Democratic leadership styles)
  • Avoid being autocratic in your leadership

I feel like its hard to talk about being a manager/boss without sounding a little anti-management, or talking like you just want everyone to be friends all the time. However, I do believe having a designated leader is a good idea, and sometimes managers need to take a more authoritarian role to get this done. So long as that is not the regular way things are run it is probably alright.

My hope would be that in the event I have people I need to manage, I would be able to follow this.

(Types of Leadership References come from Here and Here)

2 thoughts on “Leadership or: How I learned to stop worrying and love my boss”

I’ve been fortunate over my years to have enjoyed the experience of nearly every boss/managerI’ve had to work with, although I’ve seen plenty of bad examples via friends and family who weren’t as fortunate. Your post seems to share a theme I’ve seen in my own first and second hand experiences, and a lot of it comes down to selfishness.

A good boss can trust their employees to try and do the right thing, and ideally, everyone can share in the benefits of the result. Bad bosses can be shortsighted, placing their own personal goals or aspirations above the good of the group, harming their employees (and ironically, themselves) in the process.

I’m so glad you touched on the topics of bosses owning their responsibilities, as being in charge is a double edged sword (and a good boss needs to know when to fall on it). To borrow a RPG term, a boss should be able to ‘Tank’ the exterior threats to their group (upper management, clients, etc) and do leverage their power so the employees focus on the internal challenges of the product. When the milestone is reached, the dragon is slayed, everyone is still alive, and both the boss and employees can share in the spoils.

Thanks for the post Ben.

Eric Lortie Eric Lortie says:

Ha! Love the tank reference. I’m definitely going to use that the next time I give a lecture on leadership.

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