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5 Things The Best Boss I Ever Had Taught Me About Being A Great Manager And Leader



There is without a doubt one boss that I have had in my marketing career that I would call out as the very best boss I ever had. Partly as he was so exciting, inspiring and technically excellent, but also he taught me some key principles about what makes a great leader and boss. Below is a list of 5 of the key principles that he taught me, that I believe what makes a great leader.


#1: Ensure that everyone in your team, at all levels,  feel they are part of a big, special, important and exciting mission.

  • Set a simple, clear but very motivating vision that is more than just about making sales or hitting profit targets. A powerful vision and belief that you are being part of something significant will ensure everyone drives and tries that bit harder.
  • Make it exciting, a bit thrilling – and even feel a bit scary. But have fun doing it.
  • Sales, share and profit are not exciting, although of course they need to be delivered. But make them feel more like the positive side effect of driving the mission.

Related: How One Man’s Purpose Turned Apple Into A Powerhouse

#2: Actively recruit and seek to build diversity into your teams.

  • Some of the best and most creative solutions come from clashing together different thoughts, ideas and approaches.
  • Encourage, and make it safe, to be different from the norm and expected. A safe pair of hands will not create masterpieces that surprise and delight. Those that challenge the status quo are more likely to find solutions that are better, more differentiated and unique in your marketplace.
  • In large corporations in particular, those that stick in and take the middle round slowly but surely succeed and survive – but across very successful organizations it is the ones that challenge the status quo that are the winners and rise faster.
  • BUT, you have to ensure you create an environment that everyone respects each other. Diversity only works best when people can disagree but respect each other.

Related: Recruitment – 10 key steps to getting the right person, first time!

#3: Make sure you only ever recruit, or bring, people into your team that you would like to work for one day – but also expect to as they have skills and talents you can only dream of having.

  • One of the telling signs of managers with potential and depth is their confidence to recruit people that are better than they are, or have the potential to be better than you. Seek out people who you suspect are, or will be, smarter, faster and more creative than you.
  • Remember you will succeed and win yourself if you have people in your team that are talented and driven.
  • And one day when you do work for them, they will treat you well as you gave them the break. Trust me, this is my experience. I am proud that I recruited many people that form the senior management team of the company I worked for.
  • It is also essential to move fast on people who are not delivering. Teams know when people are not pulling their weight, or the job is beyond the capability of someone. You have to move fast on addressing under-performance or issues. They are unlikely to go away. You will be respected for acting fast and decisively. He taught me, and it works, is that the key is also figuring out what the person is or would be good at – and helping them find that role (be it inside or outside the company) quickly.

#4: Delegate. Delegate Properly, don’t abdicate….

  • The key to successful delegation is about having and ensuring the person, or team, you are delegating to is clear what the vision is – and how success will be measured. Then allow people get on with it, ensuring you are available  to be the mentor, a sounding board and a guiding hand when needed. Let go by letting people know the boundaries they can operate in.
  • Do not confuse delegation with abdicating! You still need to be responsible for the outcome and the results, and making people feel they have been left out in the cold and exposed is worse than over interference.
  • It takes great confidence toy be able to let your team go with something you would not have done or a solution you would not have come up with. But if you have great people you need to, as your ideas and decisions may be tainted by what worked for you in the past. The future is the way ahead.
  • By letting people understand that you will let them make calls you actually put greater pressure on them, as they have to ensure their decisions or solutions will work. They can’t syndicate the risk and blame you. If you trust their judgement they will go the extra mile to make it work.
  • Nothing will make your team work harder and be more focused than when they know you will take a risk on their decisions and judgement.

Related: Delegation First Aid

#5: Celebrate the successes. And also the failures

  • You need to create an environment where every success is acknowledged, shared and celebrated. People crave recognition, and celebrating the successes is important. Ensure they are public and people understand what made the success and a success, so people can learn.
  • This then makes acknowledging failures easier. The saying goes that “there is no gain without pain”. The fact is that in dynamic and growing businesses you will have failures, and you are unlikely to win big time if you are not pushing boundaries – and sometimes failing. Create an environment where calculated failure is acceptable, and that people are not afraid and hide them. But get them out, figure out what can be learnt and build on it.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs To Party

Image: “Closeup of a businessman showing the superhero suit under his shirt/Shutterstock



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The Author:

Gary Bembridge Marketing and Travel Blogger, Podcaster and Consultant. 30+ years experience building brands at Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. My Marketing Podcast won European Podcast Awards (Business) the last 2 years. http://www.garybembridge.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    A brilliant post Gary and so true. I had a great boss once too that I learnt a lot from. Everyone in the business felt useful and that they had a purpose to the business as a whole as well as their own job. Everything was open and no hidden agendas. And it was an incredibly successful business – mostly because of the way it was run I believe. Thanks for sharing

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ John twohig

    Super post Gary. I never had a boss like that, but would aspire to become a boss like that. Trust and empowerment will bring the best results from you co-workers, but also the buck has to stop with you. If mistakes are made accept them, learn from them and move on.

  • http://www.garybembridge.com/ Gary Bembridge

    It is scary how few bosses there are like the one I had. I actually had him early on in my career (luckily) – and not had anyone as great since…

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    I love this post, Gary. It’s amazing the impact a great boss can have on us. I too, had one very early on in my career and he left a huge imprint that I will forever carry with me.