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

Jan Barnes joining agile42

Jan Barnes joining agile42 as an Agile coach in the Canada team

Image of davesharrock

Dave Sharrock

Agile coach passionate about getting things done; helping teams exceed expectations, delivering organizational excellence, and all while having fun doing what they do.

Mike Freislich on the inevitability of change

Video of Mike Freislich interview with Klaus Leopold on the Lean Business Agility podcast

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

Agile Portfolio Management in it-daily.net

A new article in German magazine it-daily.net

Image of marion

Marion Eickmann

I am one of the founders of agile42. Even though I am not an engineer I consider myself almost a "Techi" as I have been working in the field of software development for 10 years now.

Why Agile Transformations Fail – Do You Fall Into The Same Pitfalls?

Insights from TAC2017: Why do agile transformations fail? Identify whether your team or organization falls into the same pitfalls.

Image of hwong

Hazel Wong

Marketing Assistant at agile42. Passionate about gaining insights from data in order to create content that resonates with the audience. Eager to help teams and companies open their mindset about the application of agile methods to address their challenges.

Sponsoring Let's Test South Africa

Let's Test South Africa 2017 sponsored by agile42

Image of joperold

Joanne Perold

Agile Coach in South Africa. Explorer, learner, experiencer, part time philosopher, working with teams and organisations to be more agile.