What Makes a Great Boss

Bad bosses are like the news…we hear more about them than the good ones. I think it's time to reflect on the good ones we've had (or perhaps still have).

Now, perhaps I should be a little more specific as to what I mean by "good boss". I don't mean "good" in the ways of giving you a big office, a big pay raise, an invitation to his house party, etc. I'm talking about the one that you can't help but work hard for. I mean the boss that leaves an impression on you even after you left the company.

I had a few bosses to choose from when I decided to write this blog and I picked one I had when I was in college. I choose him mainly because I often realize some of his habits that rubbed off on me and still affect me today. When I think of the time I worked for him…I smile.

His name was Mark Cheney. We worked at a very small electronics repair company called RJ Electronics. I was responsible for taking calls, working the front desk and keeping track of inventory status. It was usually just 3 of us in the little shop at a time. Despite the fact it wasn't a thrilling job, I was never bored or miserable. Here are some of the things I remember about Mark:

His sense of humor. Mark was the kind of guy that I could talk to about anything and he had quite the funny bone in him. I don't think there were many days that went by where we weren't laughing at something and that's such a great thing to have in the workplace. He was also instrumental in introducing me to the Monty Python Instant CD collection, which has been a favorite of mine now for years.

His compassion. Mark had a genuine interest in things that were important to me. We always talked movies, what was going on at school…even news and politics. However, there was no better example of his compassion than a day where my girlfriend at the time had surgery on her nose (old injury). Originally, I told Mark I would be just a little late after visiting her, but her family had to leave for a bit and I didn't want to leave her alone. I was really nervous about asking Mark if I could just stay there the rest of the day. But when I called and told him what was going on, he said, "Don't worry about anything. Stay there and take care of that pretty girl while she gets prettier."

His people etiquette. I was already kind of a "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am" kind of guy, but Mark enhanced those habits even more. Every customer that walked in was greeted with, "How are you, sir/ma'am?" That courtesy was consistent in everything he said to the people who brought him business.

You know when you repeat something that you always heard someone else say, and you hear their voice in your head as you say it? These days, when I say, "How are you, sir?" I hear Mark in my head.

I think this speaks volumes about how bosses can be teachers and influential people in our lives. This wasn't a multi-million dollar business with extremely rich clients that you had to speak to politely because it was risky not to. It was just the way Mark conducted his business and it was a great influence on a college kid.

I also think it just goes to show you that being a good boss doesn't have to be a complicated, over-analyzed system of processes. While training in management and leadership is important, sometimes it's as simple as being personable, professional and impressionable.

Those are all good traits for a boss to have.

Published on behalf of Mr. cott Murray, the Social Learning Evangelist for TrainUp.com, the web's largest career marketplace. He is also a contributor to the Training Insights Blog, a series of blogs dedicated to career and professional development.

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