In honor of Boss’s Day today, I thought I’d share a few thoughts. I’ve been on both sides of the table and like to think that I have experienced just about every kind of leader imaginable. The screamer, the nice guy, the motivator, the take credit for everything, the humble servant…there are lots of different leadership or “boss” styles. But which is the best?
I started working when I was 9 years old. My father owned an air condition installation and service company. I literally would climb into attics and run duct work, run wire, some welding, hang units, insulate ducts, etc. Did I mention that I grew up and live in Texas? Summers would sometimes hit 112-116 degrees in Dallas, and then to be up in an attic would make it feel like 200 degrees. Sometimes we could only stay up there a few minutes at a time because of the heat. But my dad was my first boss. He’s a quiet man…never has much to say, but he is a perfectionist. Everything, always, no matter what, had to be perfect. I had to redo so many things until I finally realized that doing it right the first time was always better – a lesson I have tried to carry with me to this day.
As I left college and entered the workforce full-time, I worked as a minister. Now, this is where having bosses gets interesting. In a church environment, committees and church members run the place. So a minister on staff doesn’t have just one boss. You have as many bosses as attends that church…WHICH IS CRAZY! How do you satisfy hundreds of perceptions, personalities, and priorities? The answer is – you don’t. What I learned in this environment is that you do what you feel is the right thing to do and then stand by your decision.
Next, I had a couple of bosses that were intimidators. Both were very large men, and both had perfected the art of staring you down, giving you “the look” and then having outbursts that led you to believe they were crazy. With at least one of them, I knew it was an act…it was designed to get a reaction, and a lot of people obliged. In working in this type of environment, I learned to focus on doing my job, working hard, minimize mistakes, and those outbursts rarely would come my way.
Then I’ve had a couple of those, “I trust you to do your job” type bosses. They give a lot of freedom and they assume that everything is good unless they hear from you otherwise. These were always the hardest bosses for me to work with. I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to be asked to find a newer and better way to produce results. I wanted someone with just a little bit of an edge to them.
The best bosses by far, and the one that I strive to be, is a the servant leader. This is the person who will do the most menial task in the company and never feel it is below them. The person who serves his/her employees to make sure they have everything they need to be successful. The person who spreads the credit instead of hoarding it for themselves. The person who invest thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sacrifice into the people he/she works with, and hopes that they will want to return the same to him/her. Yes, the servant leader is the best model for being a boss.
It has been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The servant leader models this. I’ve also heard that people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. It’s hard to imagine a tidal wave of people ever wanting to leave a servant leader style boss. Think of how your organization’s turnover rate would drop if everyone would lead with this model.
Happy Boss’s Day! It’s a sometimes tough, but usually a very rewarding role. Hopefully you still realize that you will always answer to someone, and take that into consideration when you lead.