Learn to be a great boss

Written by
Gabriela Dittrichova
Published on
June 24, 2021

Do you remember when you got out of school and were full of dreams, ideas and big plans? And then, what happened? Did they get swollen with time, became reality, or got forgotten? If it’s not the dreams, then what draws you to the office desk? Is it your salary, your status or is it the people you talk to and get inspired by? If the latter resonates with you, you are on the right track. Because as many bosses agree, every business is about people! And who sets the tone for the team? The leader. Read how to become the boss you always wanted to have.

Leadership Guide Femme Palette.png

Outstanding bosses are those who somehow effortlessly are inspiring you to be the best version of yourself. They are the role models who their team members are striving to be, they are the teachers who everyone is keen to learn from, they are the representatives of the team spirit. They are the core of a team. They are the embodiment of the work culture. If you have a great boss, you know what I’m talking about. Your boss is there for you when you seek advice or long for encouragement. They will be available to you whenever you need them, sometimes even without saying a word. They are human, extremely relatable and almost feel like your best friend. Yet you have extreme respect and have built mutual trust between the two of you. Great boss is a dream. But it can become your reality - with these few steps. One minor adjustment at a time… 

1. Inspiration 

  • A successful boss is passionate about their job. It goes without saying that they must love what they do but, in addition, through their behaviour, they inspire the team to work harder and prove their value and worth for the team. 
  • Good bosses inevitably shape and mirror the company culture. If your boss works at night, you might tend to work late hours too. If your boss wears a suit to the office, you are likely to do the same. What’s that showing? That you both are the representatives of a brand, and thus you are in the right place.
  • But a great boss also knows when to stop. Maybe they work flexible hours, maybe they have kids at home, and so if you receive a message late at night, it should most certainly say - ‘I don’t expect you to reply immediately’. Because great bosses are also human and relatable. If they make a mistake, they admit it. Furthermore, they will seek ways for everyone to learn from it. They are never above anyone or anything within and beyond the team. 

2. Impact 

  • Because you spend about a third of your day at work, you must make sure that the person you work for is someone you respect and value. Only then will you also allow them to get close to you and impact your approach to work.
  • Can they keep cool under pressure? Great! Ask how. Do they ace delegating tasks? Grab a coffee and discuss how they learnt these skills so you can follow their footsteps. 
  • Once you get to know your boss, you will have to set clear boundaries. You will eventually recognise when to talk business and when is a good time to reach to more relaxed topics and maybe get a little personal. It is extremely important that you are connected to your boss not only on the professional but also on a personal level, so your communication and mutual efforts are effective.

3. Incentive 

  • A great boss should be able to encourage their team members to thrive and reach for their personal bests. This does not apply only to financial rewards, but also to giving teammates the attention and time they need. By spending time together, not only can bosses inspire their team members to work hard, but also establish a strong bond within their teams and incentify the members to perform better and stay longer in the company.  
  • Regular contact leads to building respect and trust between the parties. This strengthens the connections within the team and boosts the workers’ loyalty.

4. Individuality

  • Every excellent boss recognises talent. And they know how to work with it. Not only can they teach their team how to utilise their skills and develop them, but they can also learn from those. A great boss is unafraid to bow down and listen. Being humble results in an improved work experience for everyone in the team. 
  • A team leader is also a guru in identifying different personalities and celebrating uniqueness and individuality of all of them. This allows the boss to build a well-balanced team which represents all key strengths and distinctive talents. 

5. Interest 

  • Outstanding bosses show they care. They are curious and interested in you, they want to help you progress and evolve as a professional and on a personal level. They have faith in you and show interest in your dreams and aspirations. 
  • After some time, you will gain the feeling that your boss will always have your back. That’s how you know you have found it. You will know your boss is great! 

An unforgettable boss is empathetic, caring, personable, fair and puts their best foot forward for the team. But what does that all mean? It means that your boss can change your life. They can show you how to be the best version of yourself, be less afraid and more ambitious. How to celebrate differences and follow your dreams. Because, at the end of the day, that is what we all should live for. To make our dreams a reality. And an excellent boss can seriously help.  

Femme Palette Leadership Guide

Download the Leadership Guide to get useful insights, advice and exercises on becoming a great boss. In the guide, you’ll find inspiring interviews with successful leaders from the Femme Palette community about their leadership lessons, what went wrong and what they learnt from it. 

Tereza Machackova (Head of Talent at Productboard) 

Tereza Machackova

What went wrong?

It was difficult for me to admit that the way I was working as an individual contributor was a) not scalable, b) not sustainable, and c) not healthy. I was working like crazy. I found sleep and even holidays boring. All I wanted to do was focus on anything related to the productboard. I knew there are only 24 hours in a day, but I wanted to deliver high-quality work, just like everyone else did. Around this time, I realized I needed to scale my team and the scope of my work. I needed to give away my Lego. I also noticed we are behind our hiring plan and we need to hire much faster. I cannot oversee 60 positions all over the world, interview them, build all the processes, and look after our employees' wellbeing at the same time.

What lesson did you learn?

When planning, you always need to look at the bigger picture. Or at least if you are a leader. I was not certain about this - about me being a leader - to be completely honest. But in order to exhibit some kind of leadership skills, I had to come up with a plan for how I see the scaling of the people in the ops team. This came first, as it was the most important thing to do in terms of being able to scale the productboard.

I learned that at a very early stage - you need to find out where you want to go as a company. You need to chase your founders for the answer. If the bigger picture is clear, you can scale the architecture and processes, and then you are ready to level up the team. In that way, you can define your growth strategy and design the road map.

What would you do differently?

I would definitely scale the team much faster at first when the company was growing fast. If there is no clearly defined goal by the company (as in my case), you have to define it for yourself. Explicitly!

It's like if you are going to hire your design team. You should first hire your Head of Design, the leader of your design team so s/he can create the rest of the team, or transfer some of their network to the company.

How do I grow a team while ensuring that I’m on top of all the other tasks (e.g. interviewing candidates, onboarding new-starters, organizing meetings and community events, implementing tools, building scorecards) whilst focusing on productivity and the bigger picture?

To this day, the honest answer is: I don’t know. But one thing I have learned is that you can only focus effectively on one project at a time. In other words, first, you need to figure out what you will prioritize. (Something I’m afraid I didn’t do!).

Hana Habermannova (CEO and company director at PPC Bee)  

Hana Habermannova

What went wrong?

One of the biggest mistakes I made was hiring too many senior specialists and then not spending enough time with them. As a result, they didn’t understand my needs and requirements, nor did they recognize the values that were crucial to me and to the company. I was convinced that if someone senior in their role would have the necessary skills and abilities to understand the problem better than me, they would grab this opportunity and do it exactly the way I pictured it in my head. Imagine having people on a football pitch and expecting them to know how to play the game and how to score. But when I returned, the players were either gone from the pitch, hanging on the fence or sleeping on the bench. Discipline disappeared, punk ruled!

What lesson did you learn?

A. Never assume something will happen without you giving clear instructions first. Nobody can see inside your head.

B. Senior roles require the same amount of care, time, and attention as the junior ones do. Do not underestimate it!

C. If I need something from someone, my responsibility is to clearly define what it is and how to do it, to ensure they fully understand the task and what is expected from them. Continuously check back, be specific about the quality and timeframe you expect, and ensure that everybody is on the same page, or the same pitch, and understands the rules of the game.

What would you do differently?

Freedom at work is a great thing but not everyone can cope with it. In the past, I would have spent more quality time with my team to ensure that everybody understands their responsibilities and can take charge. In that way, I would keep the ball rolling and ensure we are heading in the right direction. Right now, I’m back on the pitch and, sometimes, I properly blow the whistle :) I still trust my team members, but I also check on them more. I learned that though I want to continue delegating tasks and sharing responsibilities, everything needs its time and nothing can be rushed.

If you want to become a great boss, join our leadership program to learn more.

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