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A great boss

Have you ever worked for a boss that was extraterrestrial? He or she was so inspiring that you could not believe the advice you were receiving.
(For the sake of simplicity I will refer to the boss as he. But the boss can clearly be either man or woman).
He  was available to help you evolve. We are talking exceptional here. If you have worked for such a boss, you are fortunate. Most bosses are not like that. Most of them are struggling somewhere halfway the mountain. But this one manager, this exceptional person, was high on the summit.

Don’t glorify

Well, let me give you a piece of advice. Don’t glorify him. Here’s why.

  1. Never forget he is human.
  2. Surely there is something he can improve? Nobody is perfect.
  3. Glorification is never good for anyone. It might get into his head. Don’t glorify. Help him to stay modest.
  4. Don’t forget that the air up there is thin. And that he is lonely. So help him by being his companion, not his fan.
  5. In some cases, he might be a psychopath, using his charm to lure you into the idea you’re in heaven.
  6. Maybe the good relationship is a temporary situation. He is there at the right time. You needed him and you were willing to accept whatever downside or you did not see it.
  7. Glorification assumes that leadership success is his merit. But a good leader depends a great deal on the context where he works. And the people who work together with that leader also reinforce good leadership. Any good leader knows it’s not about him.

Appreciation is OK

Of course you should appreciate a good boss. They’re hard to find. Here are 10 characteristics that need to be appreciated.

  1. He is clear and consistent in his vision. He creates meaningfulness. He unites people around a common cause.
  2. He is credible because he walks the talk.
  3. He is vulnerable and admits mistakes. He will not try to hide mistakes, or blame others.
  4. He gives enough space for you to grow. And as you grow, you get more space.
  5. He allows others to shine and does not take all the credit.
  6. He defends you when you are in trouble.
  7. He gives attention to you as a person, listens to what you need and has attention for your personal health.
  8. He creates a context where people can thrive. He creates opportunities for people.
  9. When you talk to him, you feel an abundance of respect, kindness, fairness, … even when he makes tough calls. He never threatens you.
  10. He’s fun to work with.

If you have such a boss go up and give him a compliment. Do it now. But never ever glorify him. It’s in his and your best interest.

David Ducheyne is the founder of Otolith. As a former HR and business leader he focuses now on humanising strategy execution.


  • kindadukish says:

    You must live in a different world that the one I inhabit. I have never met anyone who “glorified” their boss………… admired, respected, appreciated yes, but glorified no (and I speak with over 40 years working in public, private and freelance sectors). It is up to each individual to decide what they want from their boss and it is then up to the perception and skill of the boss to ‘adapt” to meet the individual needs of team members (bit like the old Theory X—-Y).
    And as far as leadership is concerned, there must be 10,000 books on the shelves on “effective leadership” but despite all these and all the accompanying research into the topic companies keep on making the same mistakes.
    But I suppose it keeps Management Consultants in a job…………………

    • David Ducheyne says:

      Mmm. Leadership Theory is a bit like philosophy. If you’d apply all philosophical insights you’d be far off. And probably we need to make those mistakes over and over again. It’s like parenthood: you make the same mistakes as your parents did, in spite of the well documented best practices (that change also according to societal evolutions).

  • Tshamani says:

    Interesting article. One of my lecturers used to say that we must always remember “the bigger the person, the bigger the shadow”. All of us have shadows and we need to always remember that even leaders who seem to have it all together have shadows.

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