Master the Craft of Being a Great Boss

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Art Jones was the best boss I've ever seen up close. I was with him one afternoon when a much younger and newer boss asked him what he had to do to get as good as Art. There was a long pause.

"Get a little better every day," Art told him, "keep at it for a long time."

The younger man looked crestfallen. "How long?"

"I've been at it for twenty-four years," Art said, "and I'm still learning."

If you want to be a great boss, pay attention to that advice. Work at it every day. Get a little better. And stay with it. Here's what to expect, based on my thirty years of observing great bosses.

It will take you one or two years to master the basics. There's a lot to learn and it's all about doing, not simply understanding. That's what a craft is, a doing discipline.

It will take another decade or so to become a master. That's not a guarantee. That's ten years of working on your craft and getting better.

Get lots of feedback from everyone you can. Evaluate it and use it to do things a little better next time.

Use role models and other bosses for examples of what to do that works. Try to emulate them, filtering their practice through your personality.

Use reading and courses for ideas. You won't get better unless you apply those ideas and see how they work.

Make time to reflect. A little reflection on how you're doing every day and every week will help you sharpen your personal development.

Keep learning. Every new team, new job, and new boss will mean that you will need a different mix of skills, some of which you haven't mastered yet.

No matter how good you get at it, you're never done. Being a boss is a job you can never do perfectly. You can always do better.

Boss's Bottom Line

Being responsible for the performance of a group can be the most rewarding work in the world, but the work and the opportunity for improvement are never done.

Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.



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  • 2/6/2013 1:41 AM Tony Lewis wrote:
    Thanks Wally, another great piece of advice. I would also add another point to your list. That would be:

    Take note of bad bosses and make sure you do not follow them.

    I have had some really bad managers over the years and now that I am a manager I always try to remember to be different to them.

    Thanks again for all your great advice

    Reply to this
    1. 2/6/2013 9:00 AM Wally Bock wrote:
      Thanks for the kind words, Tony, and for adding that piece of great advice.

      Reply to this
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