Studies show that there are 3 bosses in our working lives that are particularly influential in shaping how we choose to manage and lead others when given that responsibility. This mile in your journey is intended to have you answer questions that will offer insight into the lessons you have “tucked away” based on managers you have worked for so far in your career.
1. In 3 words or phrases describe the first boss you had in your full-time career. Take a look at what you just wrote down. Today, do you value those attributes or try to avoid them? Why? Whether positive or negative attributes in what ways did each help you learn and grow? What is the most important lesson you learned having worked for that person?
2. Repeat #1 but this time answer the questions in the context of the worst boss you have had in your career so far.
3. Repeat #1 but this time answer the questions in the context of the best boss you have had in your career so far.
4. Review your responses in #1 thru #3. Are there any themes in terms of manager attributes, lessons learned, what you valued, what you saw as positive and negative traits. Looked at cumulatively what does the information help you understand about your managerial and leadership style. Does it generate attributes that are helpful to those you manage? What type of experience do those attributes create for them? Do the attributes create or limit feedback, communications, trust and openness in your relationships with employees? How can you be sure they do?
5. Think about the many pieces of advice you have received from your bosses and other leaders you have interacted with. What is one particularly valuable piece of advice that you regularly draw upon? What does it cause you to do? How does it help you in your job?
6. Think about a piece of advice you received from a boss or other leader you interacted with that, in retrospect, you wish you had ignored. What was the advice? What happened as a result of using the advice? What did you learn from it? In what ways has it helped you deal with similar situations more effectively?
7. Think about a time in your career where a boss or other leader helped you through a difficult situation. What was the situation? How did they help you? What did you learn from it? How can you pay it forward with those you lead today? How can you pay it forward with co-workers?
8. Think of a situation in your career in which a boss or other leader encouraged you to take risk, you did and the outcomes were good. What was the risk? How did they encourage you? How did it help you? What did you learn from taking the risk? Do you have an employee(s) today who might be concerned about risk and could benefit from your coaching?
These are questions we don’t ask ourselves often enough and yet studies show that the practice of regularly learning from these questions are common in highly effective, trusted and respected leaders. As one of my mentors always reminded me, “You can have several one year experiences or several years of experience; it all depends on whether you choose to learn.”