They’re all out there; the demanding types, the ones who serve, the laid back ones and even the ones you hardly ever actually see. Some are the way the are because the job itself requires a certain kind of leader; some are good and some are poor at what they do. Have you ever really thought about the kind of boss you work best under, and if so have you done anything to really put yourself in a position to work under your ideal supervisor?
Over the course of my life I’ve worked under many different people, and each one of them has had unique qualities and personalities that either helped or hindered them as they went about their work. I’ve had some that were weak, some who by extremely productive, and some who were very memorable, but not always for being effective.
Have you ever noticed that some might enjoy working for a person and at the very same time there are others who wish the boss would either move on or change? That really shouldn’t be all that surprising. People being complex and different, the chemistry between people isn’t likely to be identical, and so if the boss has a team of 12 people, it’s normal some might be more or less appreciative of the same person.
The person I am today has a great deal to do with all the previous people under whom I’ve worked. And with each supervisor, I’ve picked up qualities that I’ve looked for or tried to avoid in the next person I worked for.
Now you might read this and believe you can’t choose your boss at all; you get assigned a boss when you get hired and you have no influence over that person so you like it or lump it. I don’t agree. If you are in a large workforce, you might be able to transfer to another team but perform the same work; part of your decision being to consider the leadership of a team and where you’ll thrive best.
I’ve been to job interviews and when asked to pose questions of my own, raised the issue of leadership and stated the style of supervision I best respond to. In two job interviews, raising this was instrumental as the employer had multiple needs and had the flexibility to place new hires under different people. In short, I described the kind of leader that I thrived under and got assigned to someone whose style of leadership put me in a place to succeed. You could say I chose my boss.
Another important reason for really knowing your bosses style and getting on board with it could arise if you are counted on at some point to represent them in their absence. If for example, your years of service and your own leadership skills are drawn on when the boss is off or out of the office, you might be wise to be consistent and make decisions that are in line with those he or she would make if present. This consistency keeps you from undermining them, provides stable leadership to other employees, and none need it more than the newest employees who require direction and guidance. Your own boss will appreciate your support in their absence and ensuring you don’t stir things up or cause disruptions that they will have to deal with upon their return.
Now some jobs call for certain kinds of leaders. A job might demand people in the role of boss make unilateral decisions while another position might lend itself to collaborative decisions based on many people’s input. If you are the kind of person who likes to get everyone’s input before making a final decision, you might work out well in some jobs but not be good at all as a Fire Chief where split-second decisions literally are life and death calls. Can you handle the stress of getting it right 96% of the time but that 4% error means injuries and possible loss of life?
Some organizations promote people to the role of boss or supervisor based on seniority. The skills that person needs as a boss aren’t necessarily the skills they needed as a worker however, and therefore without proper training and support, a newly promoted boss can be a tough person to work for because they lack the new skill set required for the job. You might find in your organization that if it is large enough, an employee that is promoted to be a boss gets shipped out to another department, a new location or different team. This is because it’s hard for some to accept the person who was their co-worker yesterday is their boss today.
Know the kind of person who will get the most out of you and do what you can to look for that kind of person in your next supervisor. How would you like them to discipline, recognize you or provide constructive feedback? As for your current boss, could you schedule a meeting and share what you appreciate in their style or possibly wish they’d change? Sometimes this knowledge will help your boss as they strive to work better with you and get more production out of you.
Unless you are self-employed, you’ll be working under someone every business day. It only seems smart then to determine what style of supervision you work best under and look for a good fit. I can tell you this, when you fit the right fit, going into work each day is much more pleasant!