“12 Things Good Bosses Believe”

I’ve been a “boss” in one way or another for years, leading projects, teams and companies.  I’ve done pretty well at it more often than not — but I’d be hard pressed to say whether I’m a “good boss” or not.

Nevertheless, I saw this article, 12 Things Good Bosses Believe, on the Harvard Business Review blog, and it really resonated with me.   This is a great list of mostly self-reflective items for those who lead teams and companies that emphasize the kinds of issues bosses juggle.  It offers some humbling, potentially skewering insights, and also gives a lot of food for thought.

The post starts off with an insight that I suspect many managers and other bosses never really internalize:

I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.

Others also hit me right where I live:

One of the most important, and most difficult, parts of my job is to strike the delicate balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough.

And several express how I try to act:

I strive to be confident enough to convince people that I am in charge, but humble enough to realize that I am often going to be wrong.


I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.

That last one I know really throws people for a loop sometimes.  Finally:

Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk — and not realizing it.

Well, yeah.  Every leader worth his or her salt knows this… and continues with the work anyway.

It’s a good list worth reading over and thinking about.  I have a one or two others I would add to this list, like: Everyone who works for me will also work for someone else, or for themselves.  A large part of my job is to help them do their best here.  Part of that in turn is helping them with their career development overall.  It may sound like a small thing, but it’s a point of view: no one who works for me is “mine;” ultimately while I hope they do good work and enjoy themselves while they’re here, this is just one part of their career.

What are some things you believe “good bosses know” — or should know?

Explore posts in the same categories: corporate, practice

4 Comments on ““12 Things Good Bosses Believe””

  1. Jared Says:


    If it helps any, I think you often strike just the right balance in most areas of management. You don’t let people cave too early when something is difficult, and push us to do better, listen to input, but are forceful enough about requirements.

    – Jared


  2. Maria Says:

    Thanks Mike! This really resonated with me too as a director in a very fast-paced, high stress position supervising a team of nurses and social workers. Really crystallized some of my own feelings/experiences.


  3. Valerie Says:

    I liked this a lot, too. Thanks, Mike


  4. Of course, ask MMO players and they’ll say:

    1) If people in plate armour are scratching at my ankles, they should be attacked in preference to the people wearing robes who are firing proton beams at me from slightly further away.

    2) If I see some of my minions being torn to pieces a few paces away from me, I shouldn’t join in with all my other minions to try to save them.

    3) If I am carrying a highly-prized weapon or piece of armour, on no account should I actually use it should I be attacked.

    4) If I have a special ability, I should announce I’m going to use it a couple of seconds before I do, so my enemies have a chance to get out of my way.

    5) Standing in the same place for all eternity is cool. A little-known side-effect is that I never have to use the lavatory.

    6) If my enemies can’t beat me after a certain time period, I will become enraged and obliterate them all. Hurting me a great deal very quickly, on the other hand, will do no such thing. Me? A masochist?

    Wait – you didn’t mean that kind of boss?



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: