There’s something inspiring about hearing employees talk about the best boss they ever had. When they speak, it’s clear that their boss made a real difference in their life, both professionally and personally. In many cases, the best bosses often become a benchmark on which we base our own behaviors and actions as a leader.
So, what exactly is it that will earn you the status of “best boss ever”? While there are countless answers, here are seven things my own leaders have done that I’ll never forget.
How to be the best boss ever? 7 ways my leader made an impact
- Granted me autonomy
- Helped me fix my mistakes
- Sought out my input
- Hosted regular one-on-one meetings
- Stood up and advocated for me
- Personalized my perks at work
- Recognized me in front of senior leaders
1. Granted me autonomy
They gave me the autonomy at work to do my job as I saw fit. I knew this was something special when I saw so many other professionals struggling under the pressure of a boss who micromanages everything they do. I had a greater sense of accountability and responsibility in return for autonomy. I want to prove them right and keep their trust in me. In a sense, the autonomy I have earned and my best bosses have granted me creates a win-win situation for us both.
2. Helped Me fix my mistakes
I’ve made a few mistakes in my career, some bigger than others. Regardless, the best bosses I ever had were always the first ones by my side to provide support and help me fix it. They didn’t have the mentality of “you got yourself in this mess; you can get yourself out.” Instead, when I made a mistake, they rolled up their sleeves and worked with me on a solution, which reassured me that they had my back and were there to see me succeed, not fail.
3. Sought out my input
The best bosses I ever had never technically needed to ask my input or opinion before making a decision as they had the authority to do so entirely on their own. Regardless, they made it a point to do so, especially when I would be directly affected or involved in the decision at hand. They would intentionally seek out my input or opinion, listen to my concerns, and even talk through possible workarounds before they made a final decision. As an individual contributor, this approach made me feel like I was more than just a person to do the work, someone whose expertise and experience was recognized and valued.
4. Hosted Regular One-on-One Meetings
The best boss I ever had was incredibly busy and was, more often than not, in back-to-back meetings throughout the workday. Yet somehow, this boss managed to host weekly one-on-one meetings with ten team members, check in with each person in the morning, answer any questions, and generally touch base via instant messaging as the day progressed. The time and energy expended to make this possible was key to keeping our team’s productivity, engagement, and morale high.
5. Stood Up and Advocated For Me
It is not unheard of for people leaders to want their employees to “fight their own battles.” In my experience, though, the best people leaders I’ve worked for were not afraid to stand up and advocate for me if I was mistreated, taken advantage of, or misspoken to by a company leader, client, or colleague.
For example, there were times when I was struggling under the pressure of a heavy workload and was showing symptoms of burnout. In this case, my best bosses recognized I was struggling, offered their help, and then jumped into action by advocating for more resources, prioritizing my tasks, and managing the expectations of others. There is no greater relief in situations where you’re genuinely struggling than feeling seen, heard, and supported by your boss.
6. Personalized My Perks at Work
Perks at work go beyond one’s salary or benefits and are not “mandatory.” They include bonuses, a flexible work schedule, unlimited vacation time, and virtual work, just to name a few. The best bosses I ever had didn’t assume what perks at work I would be most motivated by. Instead, they got to know me, asked me questions, and intentionally selected specific perks that were personalized and appealing to me.
7. Recognized Me In Front of Senior Leaders
One of the worst feelings in the workplace is when someone takes credit for something you did or when your effort and contribution go unnoticed. Fortunately, the best bosses I ever had were not only providing regular recognition and praise one-on-one, but they also made it a point to call it out in front of senior leaders, which ultimately helped me get ahead.
I do not believe that the bosses I referred to in this article woke up every day with a conscious goal of becoming the “best boss ever.” Instead, I believe they came to work every day intending to be the best leader they could be and that they genuinely cared about those in their charge. As such, their focus was on taking feedback from their employees, getting coaching from their leaders, developing their leadership skills through training, and learning from their mistakes. In other words, they always strived to be better for both themselves and those around them.