Aug. 10, 2012

The Two Things You Have to Do to Be a Great Boss

What makes a great boss great?

In my career, I've seen enough managers to lose count. Many of them were not so good, some were OK, and a few were great. That’s enough data to draw conclusions: what makes a great boss great?

It's not charisma. I did meet a few charismatic leaders, and I met some who would have gone unnoticed at any party. Neither stage presence nor the lack of it are crucial.

It's not vision. I've met leaders who could see the big picture, and others who just asked the right people for the right answer. You don't have to be a Steve Jobs to be great.

It's definitely not attitude. For good leaders, an “I am the boss” posture works - sometimes. For bad leaders, it just turns comedy into tragedy.

The great bosses I met share just two habits. One: they share their objectives with people and then get out of their way. Two: they help people from the sidelines, removing obstacles between them and the objectives.

I've never met a great boss who didn't do both things, and I've never met a less-than-great boss who did. That's all it takes, and nothing less will do: if you want to be a great boss, point people at the target and help them by removing obstacles from their path. It's that simple.

As ever, simple is not easy. You get paid a premium for a reason, sir/ma'am. Good luck.

Image of paoloperrotta

Paolo Perrotta

I'm a freelance coder, agile coach and public speaker. I also wrote the "Metaprogramming Ruby" book for the Pragmatic Programmers.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Image of paoloperrotta

Paolo Perrotta

I'm a freelance coder, agile coach and public speaker. I also wrote the "Metaprogramming Ruby" book for the Pragmatic Programmers.

Latest Posts

Scrumtisch September 2019

The Berlin Scrum User Group meets on September 30th at agile42, Gruenberger Str. 54, 10245 Berlin.

Image of aballer

Alexandra Baller

agile42 Team Assistant

The Scrum Master as an organizational multi-function pocket knife

The Scrum Master is a jack of all trades with a magic problem-solving knife in his back pocket or a master of Scrum?


Image of elrich.faul

Elrich Faul

I’m passionate about helping the current and next generations to develop the skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing world. I believe that by leveraging my expertise in engineering, psychology and management I can empower individuals and teams to reach their maximum potential. I’m inspired when given the opportunity to coach teams as well as individuals toward growth and happiness.

Campaigning for Dave

agile42 coach Dave Sharrock is running for Scrum Alliance Member Elected Director and we support his candidacy!

Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

Talking agility at Agile Islands conference

Pascal Papathemelis and the agile42 team will be present at the Agile Islands 2019 conference in the Åland Islands

Image of pascal

Pascal Papathemelis

Pascal has worked as an agile project manager/scrum master/facilitator of various developments in size and type for almost two decades. His focus is on people and practical approaches in order to deliver value. Currently Pascal is working at agile42 as an agile coach on a journey to help organisations and individuals grow, improve and become more efficient in a sustainable way.

Coaching at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki

Giuseppe De Simone will represent the Scrum Alliance at Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki, October 9-10 providing agile conversations to attendees

Image of giuseppe.desimone

Giuseppe De Simone

Giuseppe De Simone is a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) and Certified Team Coach (CTC), passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations become more productive by embracing Agile values, principles and practices. He is one of very few to be accredited from the Scrum Alliance as an educator of the Certified Agile Leadership and Path to CSP programs.