Great bosses have a super impact on early stage careers. Until recently I hadn’t understood the full impact of a great boss over and above a first class education, blue chip organisation or dreamy job title.
Tell me it’s otherwise, but I’ve seen great bosses bring out stretch performances from the most unlikely co-workers. Equally I’ve seen talented 20somethings languish for want of a good boss.
Think back over your own career and give those great bosses some credit for where you are today. None of us did it on our own. Equally, bad bosses can be extremely damaging – not because they’re bullies, brutes or bombastic, it’s just that they don’t inspire, motivate or allow your strengths to shine. Maybe you’re reading this reflecting that great leadership in your 20s was missing and your career could have turned out otherwise?
It’s self-evident that pretty well everyone has a boss up the chain of command who can make or break a career. But a great boss can override many deficiencies in the nature of a job or organisation; they’ll stretch and develop their team, and help them accomplish extraordinary work. As a head-hunter I’ve interviewed literally thousands of people.
So what have I learned from this one-on-one market research called interviewing and a career spanning 30 years? Great leaders help other people succeed. Some candidates give text book answers about leadership, whilst those who genuinely care about their staff as individuals are the ones who stand out from the competition. They connect and motivate individuals and teams. They set high expectations and celebrate success. They encourage their people to take responsibility and will assert their authority only as necessary, knowing that oversights can be the undoing of special projects. They are respectful, humorous and stay on message.
I had four great bosses as a student and through my 20s. Lucky me. Mary Durus, Mr Hale, Chris Stewart and Sally-Anne Raher, thank you.
Did you have a great early-career boss? What impact did they have? I’d love to hear your Point of View.