Good Bosses

During my thirty-five years of employment, I had eleven bosses. Most were great. However, a few were not. 

MJ’s wise council got me through the not-so-great ones. She told me to carefully watch the bosses I disliked and figure out why, and then make sure I never exhibited those behaviors with people that answered to me.

It was good advice. In fact, it works the other way around as well. 

What makes an exceptional boss? How might we model those behaviors?

There’s a big difference between managers and leaders. Excellent bosses always brought out the best in me. Mediocre bosses focused on my weaknesses. More times than not, it was all about them. Exceptional bosses concentrated on my strengths. They recognized that success depended on building team members’ confidence. As such, they went out of their way to make sure I felt valued. 

The same characteristics apply to the people who had the greatest influence on my life outside of work. 

Six behaviors come to mind: 

1. They set a strong example 

2. They placed kindness ahead of criticism.

3. They focused on positive attributes and were generous with praise.

4. They provided honest and caring feedback, even when it was difficult to hear.

5. Rather than making demands, they asked how they could be of assistance. 

6. They made sure I knew how important I was to them.

The last point is an important one. There’s probably no better way to make sure our lives matter than to make sure the lives of the people around us matter! 

When I was young, I assumed intelligence and accomplishments got people promoted to the “big chair.” However, when I ultimately rose to the level of hiring bosses myself, I found that intelligence and personal achievements were merely table stakes. Exceptional candidates focused on others rather than themselves. People wanted to work for them.

Looking back, I learned a lot from the bosses I disliked. Fortunately, the negative role models were few and far between. 

Reflecting on those days provides yet another example that our greatest impact in life points away from “Self.”


If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend.

To receive my latest posts directly, click subscribe and fill in your email address in the box at the bottom of the page.  

Previous posts may be found here:  

7 Replies to “Good Bosses”

  1. Tim—- Totally agree—- I had some great bosses and some very poor ones—- I learned a lot from the poor ones but personally excelled more with the good or great bosses…..Behnke was one of the best bosses I ever had !!

    He brought out the best in me and let me experiment with who I was and what I ” could ” be—-

    Thanks as always for sharing all your thoughts and feelings every Sunday—- we all learn together….


  2. Tim – – I have often used and will always remember one piece of hiring advice you gave me when I was working for you in the late 90s – – “Always try and hire someone who you think might one day be your boss! “. It’s a great way to focus on hiring the best and ensuring that the people you hire will be wonderful to work for!


    1. Great to hear from you Jim!

      Thanks for reading the blog. Would love to get together and catch up sometime.

      Hoping all is well with you and your family!

      Tim Sent from my iPhone



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: