Is There A Perfect Boss?
I’ve been in the workforce now for 19 years. I’ve experienced several bosses during my work life. Most have been great and a few have been less than desirable, but one stands out above the rest.
It’s a good situation when one can truly say, “I enjoy what I do.” I say that every day when I wake up and mosey down to my home office with a hot cup of coffee and my two Labrador retrievers in tow. I enjoy my work partly because of my boss, Cody Graves.
Cody, President of Automated Energy, Inc. agreed to bring me on board five years ago to lead a national sales effort for his company. I remember the morning I met with him at some greasy spoon restaurant on my first day of work. He looked at me from across the breakfast table, “I’ve decided I’m going just throw you out there, Erick, and let you swim on your own.” Kind of an odd statement for a boss to say to one of his new employees, except that it was genius.
I actually liked that he allowed me to find my own way. Cody knew that was the best approach for me. I’ve realized as I work with Cody and observe how he interacts with all his employees that he has a gift for intuition and knows how to approach each employee, based on his personality and strengths.
Cody didn’t try to fit me into a box or ask me to conform to a set of principles or rules that he believed would generate success, instead, he believed in me and allowed me to use my strengths and gifts to elevate the company. Because he displayed a high level of confidence in my abilities, it motivated me to perform and not let him down. But how did he know my gifts and what would work for me? He asked a lot of questions.
Cody leads through inquiry. He constantly asks questions and probes, so he can fully understand a person or a problem. His questions are thoughtful and purposeful. I’ve observed Cody resolve many conflicts by asking simple questions. I’m amazed as problems begin to resolve when the right questions are posed to help those involved begin to discover the answers on their own.
When I realized how much I enjoyed my work and that Cody was a big part of that joy, I became intrigued as to why and I discovered there are four principles of Cody’s leadership that contribute to a positive work environment:
- He is quick to praise. Cody rarely takes credit for the good things and assumes responsibility of things that go wrong. Whenever he shares a good idea with me, he usually credits another person for coming up with the idea. It’s subtle, but consistent. On the other hand, he assumes the blame and apologizes when something is wrong, even when it’s not his fault.
- He allows growth. I’ve failed many times in the past five years and not once did Cody criticize me or belittle me for my errors. Instead, he coached me through an issue with grace. It’s easy to bring an issue to Cody, because he looks for a positive resolution, not a person to blame, and that makes all the difference.
- He’s available and he listens. He answers my calls and is quick to respond to my e-mails. I’ve discussed a variety of issues with him over the years and he never fails to make time for me when I need to discuss something. He actively listens and allows the argument to be made, before he provides a response. He is not quick to judge or sharp with his tongue, instead he continues to listen and works to understand the issue.
- He’s open to change. Cody is well read, highly educated and extremely sharp. He has ideas on how our company should run and the path we should take; however, he is not afraid to test new theories or ideas posed by his employees. He respects others’ opinions and is open to try new tactics and new approaches and is willing to change for the good of the company.
So, is there a perfect boss? No, is the simple answer. Cody is flawed like any other person, but it’s his heart for people and willingness to lead in a positive way in the four areas I mentioned that contribute to his success. If you want to be good leader or “boss”, start with Cody’s example and you will enjoy a core group of employees that are willing to follow you anywhere!