Pick your boss, not the job

Scott D. Clary
4 min readApr 14, 2020

Pick your boss, not the job. How many times have you heard that? The person who you report to has enormous influence on your success, professional growth and happiness.

As a manager, someone charged the care of anothers’ career, you have the responsibility to act in their best interest, understand who they are and help them grow.

These are the most important things that you have to internalize and embody when you take on this incredible roll as a mentor and leader.

If you’re looking to succeed in your career, these are the things you should look for and mandate as non-negotiables with the next person you work for.

Below are the 11 things, the best bosses do.

1. A good boss earns your trust, but never asks for it.

Trust is a two way street, a good boss needs to earn your trust, and you have to prove that you won’t do anything to hurt their trust in you. Both managers and employees need to be honest, and open, accept responsibility and grow together.

2. A good boss understands you have a life.

As a manager, you’re still human. Get to know the people working for you and open up a bit of your own life to them. We all have issues and struggles, no-one expects you to go through life without them. Being vulnerable and open as well as modelling proper work/life behaviour by caring, but respecting balance is paramount as a manager.

3. A good boss listens first and acts second.

Jumping to conclusions has never done anyone any good. Everyone has something to add, and by listening, you can solve problems, conflicts and become aware of different opinions and ideas that may make your job easier and more efficient. Always engage and never discount ideas or sentiment from your team, regardless of your personal opinions.

4. A good boss helps employees find purpose in their job.

By being a good boss, you’re transparent and honest about the goals of the department and the company. By doing so, you keep your team focused, inspired and passionate.

5. A good boss celebrates the small wins.

Every victory needs to be celebrated and every team member needs to be praised. Even if it’s for the smallest win, shoutouts, recognition and endorsement can have an amazing impact on someones day, week and life. Be positive and uplifting, but most importantly — be authentic.

6. A good boss is self aware.

Being responsible for a team means that as a manager, you need to be aware of your own faults and shortcomings. These can have a dramatic impact on the professional and psychological health of your team. Be aware of what upsets you, or areas of opportunity in your own professional persona that need work. Communicate effectively with your team in order to ensure that habits you may have, will never negatively impact their work, life or psyche.

7. A good boss builds a team, they don’t just hire one.

A good boss builds a team as a unit, understanding that a person is more than just a set of skills and experience. Cultural fit is key to the success of an organization. Also, a good boss will know how to build people into better versions of themselves and help them profess professionally. If a manager can only hire talent, and can’t grow and foster talent — that’s a red flag.

8. A good boss invests in each member, personally.

A good boss focuses on each member of their team and wants them to grow. They want their team to not only grow in their role, but in their personal and professional lives. Invest time understanding where each member of your team wants to be, help them build out a 1,3,5 year plan. Help them with training, education and professional milestones to move up in either your organization or another. If you adopt a culture of growth, it will only end up supporting your own goals as a manager.

9. A good boss lets go.

Control is one of the hardest things to give up. As a manager, you need to hire people that are better at their own job than you are. Keeping this in mind, the best progress will be for you to point them in the right direction and watch them go. Provide feedback, support and guidance but never micromanage. Look for traits of an individual who strives to be more than what they are, when you hire them.

10. A good boss sets you up for success.

The start of any new career journey is daunting. A good boss will provide as much support, documentation and time as required to get new employees up to speed. If the manager doesn’t have a formal on-boarding process, then they must recognize that they’re the on-boarding and concede to spending time with you. There’s no such thing as sink or swim. Besides the wasted costs involved in hiring and having that employee fail, if you don’t set your team up for success — you need to re-evaluate your ability to lead.

11. A good boss solves problems with you, not for you.

A managers job is to guide and remove obstacles. It’s just as much of a detriment to the employee, as not knowing the answer, if the manager answers the question every time the employee asks. A good boss will look to the employee to solve their problem, provide feedback and foster a culture of learning and growth.

As both a manager and employee, focus on giving your best selves to the people you work with.

Be authentic and live by these rules.

Everyone will win, and the place where we spend most of our waking ours, will become a place where we grow and thrive.



Scott D. Clary

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