Being A Good Boss
As I progress in my career, I recognize more and more how common the negative female boss is in the corporate world. I held the expectation that the corporate world would help develop a different type of woman from the ones we knew in high school, but it turns out the mean girl who gets to the corner office…just gets meaner. And if you are a young female working for “said” mean girl, often times it is hard not to end up the target.
Looking back now, although I hate to admit it, I owe my old boss an enormous debt of gratitude. Why?
She was quite possibly the worst boss on record. However, she taught me how to be an even better boss.
I thought of her a few weeks ago when I was offered a position within my organization and gained five new direct reports, four of them being female. It was at this point that I vowed to hold myself to the following standards.
Teach don’t tell.
When I worked for this particular boss, no job that I had ever done could be good enough. The problem here was that she had held my job before I was promoted and therefore it drove her insane to think that I could do it better, at all even. Either that or she was too much of a control freak to let it go. Maybe both. Either way, I knew that she had knowledge about my new job and I wanted to learn, but she didn’t want to teach. She only wanted to prove that she knew better.
I too have held the job of my new employees. I have been in their shoes and therefore, it is my hope that it will make me an even better boss. I hope to be understanding and allow mistakes to be opportunities for learning. I hope I recognize the opportunity to teach and also to learn myself. After all, if they are succeeding and happy, it means that I too am successful.
There is more than one way to get to the finish line.
My previous boss use to have a systems for well, everything. The problem was that most of her systems didn’t work for our growing team, nor for those of us that had to complete the work. Even our vendors suffered from her “my way or the highway” thinking. There was just no way to get through to her. I will spare you all the details, but let’s just say there were consequences. (insert closed door meetings full of yelling and even cursing.) Can you imagine? Like I said…worst boss ever.
Granted, she was the boss, but it was more about her being right instead of what was right for the company and the team.
It is for this reason, that I know that my way is not always right. (Ok, actually I think it is most of the time, but I am working on it.) But really, just because it is how I do things, doesn’t always make it the way it should be done or the most efficient way. I know that I am never too old to learn and it is my hope that I will learn from my employees. When you take the emotion out of it, which can be difficult for us women, you will see that you are being paid to be effective, not right, and when you accept that realization; that’s when you will start your true career growth.
Right the wrong before the review.
This is one of my biggest complaints about my bad boss. While I couldn’t seem to meet her expectations because I wasn’t doing things her way, I wasn’t doing them incorrect either. In fact, many times I even asked for constructive criticism but received none. So you can imagine my surprise when yearly reviews came around and she had a list of things that I could work on. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the learnings but I would have appreciated them in the moment, so I could fix them.
It is one of the greatest things I have learned from my current boss and one that I hope that I can emulate. Transparency. I never have to wonder if I have done something wrong and if I have, I know immediately and he lets me learn from it. I hope that I can do the same for my employees; that I can create an atmosphere where opportunities for growth are recognized and not a shock once a year.
Maybe the most important thing to me and the biggest thing my ex-boss was missing. She wasn’t inspiring. Her team didn’t respect her and there for our company and mostly our team, was struggled .
Most of us spend more time at our jobs than anywhere else in the world. This is why creating an inspiring atmosphere is vital. I want to create a place where my employees feel protected. I want them to know that they can make a decision and I will stand behind them because I know they put in the time to think through it before they made it. I want to create an atmosphere of creativity where no idea is a bad idea; a team, where we focus on our efforts but take risks in order to reap great rewards.
I have only had male bosses since, then thankfully, and it is because of them that I have also learned great things…Patience, strength, trust, to own mistakes and mostly that when I am passionate about something speak up. It is the right thing to do (most of the time) . I wish that I could save all future generations of women from the bad female boss experience, but until then, I’ll work on being the best boss to my team, in spite of my bad one.
Megan Brock is a marketing professional in the restaurant/beverage industry. For over ten years, she's focused on guest experience, marketing and advertising. Megan is a Level 2 Sommelier, a self-proclaimed foodie, travel nut and writer.