Friday, November 6, 2009

Great Bosses Are Still Out There, Right?

Enough about the bad guys. Let's switch gears for a bit and talk about the good bosses. They're still out there somewhere, right?

I don’t have a lot of great boss stories, so these are very special to me.

This particular story is important because it wasn’t about a boss I reported to directly. This was The Big Boss – three layers above me. It wasn’t someone I had a lot of daily contact with, but I had spent the past month in close contact with him on a large strategic project.

The project itself was hell. I was leading an effort to pull together the strategy that The Big Boss would present to The Chairman. Everyone had different opinions; at least a dozen people thought they were in charge; there was more than the usual jockeying and positioning and power plays. What else is new, right? I had to make sense of it all.

In the end, the project was a success. No one got any big awards. No one got promoted. We did get to keep our jobs. That was the good news but that wasn’t the best part. Can you feel the suspense building? Here’s the best part:

The day of The Big Presentation I arrived in my office to find a voicemail left for me by The Big Boss. It went something like this:

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all the effort you put into this project. Your leadership was key and we have the right answer.”

I was stunned for a few minutes. Usually these kinds of messages would be passed down via an immediate manager – and even then they were rare. The fact that The Big Boss took the time to personally leave the message before The Big Presentation let me know that he really recognized the work I had done.

Those few words made me a fan of that boss forever!

I know there are still some really good bosses out there! What’s your great boss story?


Ange said...

What a compliment! I would've been stunned, too. Cream does rise to the top sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Wow how humbling to know how much that touched you. I have no boss stories but that story made me want to implement that into my own family of co workers, boses, etc. Thank you for sharing that it sounds like a great idea that will go along way. Like they say you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Colette said...

We hear so much about the bad things bosses do -- thought it was time to remember some good things!

John said...

One of the best bosses I ever had was at IBM. He just knew how to work with people and make them feel empowered without sounding trite or phoney.

Ellen said...

My favorite boss -- actually hired me twice -- took the time to drive up from Dallas (10 hours) to come to my 25 year party. It was really humbling and special. Must say that at IBM I've had several great ones -- and they do outshine the several bad ones I had. (But then the stories I have about the bad ones are always great to share at boss-bashing times!) :-)

Colette said...

John and Ellen -- thanks for sharing your stories!

Anon_e_mouse said...

I had some good ones... I had some real turkeys... and while a couple of the top ones were at IBM, so were the three biggest turkeys in the bunch. The unquestioned best I ever had, though, was at AT&T... I worked for him for the entire nine years I was there the first time, and it was an absolutely tremendous relationship; he truly cared deeply about all his people, and I would jump at the chance to return there and work for him again.

Anonymous said...

When I started my first job here in the US in 1995 I received an email from the company owner welcoming me to the company (1200+ employes at the time). I was impressed.
18 month later I was fired (stuff happens), no email this time, just a phone call from my immediate manager (one of the bad ones) telling me I was out.
I didn't care, I had another job by then anyway with a good boss as well.