Thinking back to the best boss you’ve ever had, what’s one thing you learned from them about how to manage well?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Always Lead by Example
My first boss shaped my career in many ways I didn’t even realize up until now. I was young but eager to win. He taught by doing. He was the first in and the last out. He would persist on problems he knew had solutions that would most affect the business in a positive way. It’s not just about working hard, it’s about working hard on the right things—and right equals long term.
2. Be Tolerant and Empathetic
I had the opportunity to have several types of bosses; however, one of them taught me the importance of tolerance and empathy. In many situations you face, you have to know how to put yourself in the shoes of the workers to understand their internal conflicts before these can impact their work.
3. Listen Before Responding
One of the best bosses I ever had was very skilled at listening before responding. Many people speak to others to react instead of understand, which doesn’t make for qualified leaders. You want to have a leader with good qualities that ensure they can run a business as well as a team. Then your processes can be enhanced, as well as your marketing strategies.
4. Trust Your Team Members
My best manager trusted me. Because they trusted me, I worked harder for them as I did not want to let them down. I believe trust is the way we get the best out of our team members.
5. Be Humble and True to Your Values
One of the best managers I ever had was incredibly humble. He ran the store we worked at but was never too good to get his hands dirty and help out when we were understaffed. It showed me that a true leader is someone who not only helps out their team, but also is reliable and stays true to their values. Just because he was in charge didn’t mean he was too good for manual labor.
6. Be Personable and Transparent
This hearkens back to my first job at 15. I worked at a coffee shop, and my manager was instrumental in making me the entrepreneur I am now. He was so good at demonstrating the value of being personable, teaching the importance of transparency and simply working hard. These are all lessons I have carried with me. I had no idea how great of an impact he had on me at the time, but it was huge.
7. Manage Your Time Right
My favorite boss taught me the value of managing my time. I struggled with procrastination and keeping my weekly list of tasks on track. After he showed me how to use time blocking to “budget” my time, I’ve been able to get more done in less time. The result is that I’m a stronger leader and able to work through projects with realistic timelines.
8. Know When to Show Emotion
As a helicopter pilot in the Navy, I had an amazing air boss for one deployment. He was a true professional, but his temperament really set him apart. He was always even-keeled—except once. One time a senior officer unfairly berated one of our aircrew. Our boss went toe-to-toe with him to correct the injustice. Our boss knew when to stay calm and when it was appropriate to show emotion.
9. Be Open to Diverse Perspectives
The best boss I ever had knew how to manage a team with diverse perspectives. He would ask for everyone’s insight on whatever tasks we were working on and find a way to incorporate each of our pieces of input. This made us feel valued and appreciated. This can be an effective strategy for smaller teams, as well.
10. Empower Your Team to Develop Great Ideas
Being “the boss” doesn’t grant you a monopoly on great ideas. Empowering your employees to develop great ideas and move the business forward is the fastest way to grow and evolve the business. As a leader, your role is to set “guard rails” to ensure everyone is facing the right direction, but then allow the team the freedom to chart their own path there.
11. Get To Know Your Employees
I’d have to say that my best boss understood the value of getting to know his team. We would have regular company meetings where everyone would share statistics, plans and progress on projects. At that point, I learned that if I wanted to have my own business, I would need to connect with my team on a similar level.
12. Help People Find Their Courage
Finding courage is key. Some of my best bosses have taught me the importance of having courage—courage to have a difficult conversation, courage to learn a new skill and courage to take on more roles and responsibilities at the company. Leadership is helping people learn that courage is within them and that they just need to know how and when to use it.
13. Know That You Work for Your Team
The best advice I received from my mentor and best boss was that, as manager and leader, your team doesn’t work for you, you work for them. You need to make sure that your team is set up for success and the team will succeed.