How To Be A Good Boss

- Leadership

by Vasco Duarte

Why are there sooooo many terrible bosses? Hmm, tough one. One reason is that in hierarchical organizations, the only way is often up. Which is rather strange. Because the better you become at something, the bigger the chance you will become a manager. And being an excellent developer doesn’t mean you have great management skills. Besides, being a manager, you won’t have any time to develop anymore and I think that’s a waste of talent.

Another reason that there are that many terrible bosses might be that being a manager or boss involves power. For most people being a manager means making all kinds of decisions for or about people. Which, again, is rather strange. Because good managers don’t manage people, they manage environments.

So how can we solve that? In this article on psycologytoday.com I found a great quote:

The bottom line is for organizations to develop evaluation systems to identify and eliminate bad bosses, or keep them from rising in the organization.

The article is mostly about power and bullies (little spoiler here: these two don’t go together very well in making great bosses), but I’d like to take it a step further.

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First: let’s change our view on what ‘getting better’ implies. If you are very talented in the field of management; congratulations. For you ‘up’ really means becoming a manager. If your talent lies elsewhere, just try to grow horizontally, by becoming the very best in your field. Make your organization introduce a couple of levels in functions (junior, senior, master etc.) and make sure each level has its own benefits. You could also start coaching new colleagues or pair up with colleagues to do your work even better and faster. But please, don’t fall into the management trap. It won’t make you happy and it definitely won’t make your co-workers happy.
Second: if you already are a manager (or aspire to become one) please remember that it’s not about managing people. Make sure those people can get the best out of themselves by tweaking their environment. Start reading books. (At least, that’s what worked for the guys of Futurice.) Follow courses and, most importantly, dare to say ‘I don’t know’ if you don’t and, the most important, learn to trust your people.

Making the most out of your career really is satisfying work. Especially if you are open to other options than the traditional ones.

Photo by Pasukaru76

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