Boss’s Day: 5 Surprising Love Lessons From Awesome Managers

love lessons from great bosses
Love, Self

Effective leaders are relationship masters. You and your S.O. can learn a thing or two.

Anyone who's seen films like "Office Space" and "The Devil Wears Prada" knows that bad bosses are a kind of running joke, especially in corporate culture. But those of us who've read books like Lean In and The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People realize that good managers do exist, and we can learn a lot from them—including how to be leaders ourselves.

But there's something else effective bosses can impart on us (besides bonuses and promotions, of course, but those are welcome)—valuable love lessons. That's right: a savvy leader can inspire great relationship habits too, which in turn make you a better (and happier) employee. Talk about ROI!

In honor of Boss's Day, we've identified the top five love lessons everyone can learn from kick-ass managers.

1. Be vulnerable: According to Brene Brown, researcher, scholar and author of Daring Greatly, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change." Bosses who act like they know it all tend to alienate the employees who report to them (raise your hand if you can relate). But managers who let down their guard and admit they don't have all the answers humanize themselves, which in turn promotes trust and loyalty in their staff.

Likewise, in romantic relationships, vulnerability key. Feeling safe enough to be wholly and unabashedly yourself with your partner—warts and all—is the ticket to true intimacy. As YourTango Expert Dave Elliot says, "That's because standing in front of another person with a mix of raw honesty, radical authenticity and compassion may actually be one of the greatest acts of courage some people will ever perform."

2. Preserve the team: You know that kind of boss—the one who takes credit for your ideas and pits employees against one another. In other words, the boss who ruins morale. As Stephen R. Covey says in his iconic book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, "The highest level of communication is synergistic (win/win) communication." In other words, managers who are confident enough to encourage collaboration and root for the success of the team get better results.

Your romantic relationship is the ultimate team; you've got to be allies. In fact, for men, working as a team comes naturally. According to YourTango Expert Helen Fisher in her book Mating In Captivity, "This response probably stems from men's ancestry. For many millennia men faced their enemies; they sat or walked by side as they hunted game with their friends." But that was millions of years ago. Today, walking into a party side by side or deciding together how you'll divide and conquer the chores will suffice.

3. Communicate clearly: Bosses who expect their employees to read their minds get nowhere fast, but those who articulate their expectations clearly get the results they want, manage their employees' time best and save the company resources. A skilled boss also takes the time to listen before reacting or offering feedback. As Stephen R. Covey says, "…most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand." 

Similarly, successful partners know they have to ask for that they need, and that listening—really listening, especially in the heat of an argument—is the surest way to resolve conflict...or avoid conflict altogether. As Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus author (and YourTango Expert) John Gray Ph.D says of effective listening, "When a woman has a problem, a man offers solutions. Often, she's simply looking for understanding and validation. As a rule of thumb: men should offer women compassion first and then help, and women should offer men help first and then compassion."

4. Use positive reinforcement: Intimidation tactics are so last century. Modern leaders demonstrate strength by hiring valuable employees and investing in their success. Says famous entrepreneur and Virgin America founder Richard Branson, "A company is people. Employees want to know, 'Am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel?' People really need to feel wanted."

Your partner in life wants to feel appreciated too (and honestly, don't you want the same?). According to relationship expert John M. Gottman, PhD, people in successful couples say 5 positive things to each other for each negative comment.

5. Delegate: One of the most distinctive—and, honestly, most challenging—traits a strong boss can possess is the ability to delegate tasks effectively. "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it," said former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

So how does this apply to your relationship? Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Says YourTango Expert Marina Pearson, "Living with another person can drive us insane. What ends up happening is one person in a relationship feels resentful over the fact that they had to carry the load in their relationship." So if it's your job to make dinner tonight but you're feeling overwhelmed, speak up before your resentment boils over. Your partner will want to pitch in because he understands, and he loves you.

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