How To Become The Type Of Boss That People Love Working For

Photo: Kevin Malik, Jacob Lund, Nicola Katie, 1001Love / Canva
boss in foreground with happy emplooyees in the back

We all know a unique person who has their life together in a way few people do. They are the people others seem to naturally look up to and follow their lead.

Someone who, despite having as many stressors and deadlines as you, still manages to perform all the actions of the day with confidence, grace, and control. They seem like they were born to lead. 

It seems like all great bosses are natural leaders. In truth, a lot of the best bosses worked hard to become this way.

The trick is to be competent and strong, without wielding force. 

RELATED: How To Change Your Life For The Better (& Why Your Brain Tries To Stop You)

Five ways to become the type of leader people actually want to follow. 

1. Remember the Golden Rule.

We’ve all heard about treating others how you’d like to be treated, but when it comes to leadership, take it one step further: Hold yourself to the same standard you expect from others.

Too many bosses choose to allocate their responsibilities to reduce their workload. Employees or interns take the brunt of the workload while the supervisor enjoys a long lunch. This creates a toxic and often duplicitous work environment. If you’re asking for a certain amount of work from your employees, expect to accept more work for yourself.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Practice Self-Care At The Office (Yes, It IS Possible!)

2. Facilitate discussion-based decisions.

If people feel like they were involved in the decision-making process, they’re less likely to feel suspect or resentful of the change. You are not relenting any power by allowing other people’s voices to be heard.

3. Practice confidence-building activities.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Square your shoulders, raise your hands above your head, and make yourself look and feel big. Look in the mirror and tell your reflection, “I’m doing great. I’m powerful.” You’ve probably heard several variations from your family or friends — I know I have. But they work.

Positive thinking changes your brain. Invest the same effort in yourself that you give to others. You can’t expect anyone to be confident in your ability to lead unless you are, too. This is especially pertinent for women as a powerful confidence gap still exists between women and men in the workplace.



4. Be authentic.

In today’s world, with distractions coming in every direction, from smartphones to television screens, the struggle for authenticity is more fraught than ever.

According to an article in Forbes, authenticity can be defined as “...building self-awareness of our whole person, as well as being transparent with others about our whole person, both strengths and limitations.” When most of our communication occurs through text, email, or teleconference, it can be challenging to say what you mean. The blank presentation of our words on paper or the screen can obfuscate meaning.

Therefore, miscommunication is bound to occur at inopportune times, with frustrating consequences. It’s crucial to consider the mistakes made by someone you employ as your mistakes as well. Admit where you could have been clearer. Alter your technique for more success in the future. This leads to my next point.

5. Make mistakes into opportunities.

To expect perfection on the first try is to invite failure. Remember the S udoku game I mentioned at the beginning of this article? A wrong number in the cluster produces an unwanted result expressed by halted progress in the game. Unfortunately, sure, but now you know not to use that number again.

If you respond to mistakes logically, your employees will see you as reasonable and be more responsive to criticism.

Photo: Nick Starichenko via Shutterstock

We celebrate leadership in others but fail to grant ourselves that same authority.

Why is that? How many times have you talked yourself out of taking charge? Of making a change?

So many people choose to live without power because they fear creating the adverse effect of over-exerting and generating force. This is an understandable concern and not one to be taken lightly.

How to be powerful without doing harm

1. Remember that force is a closed door (with a big mess behind it)

An analogy: You shove and push until the messy closet door clicks shut. Sure, the door closed, but the closet is just as messy as before.

You’re certain the Monopoly game was knocked from the top shelf during the commotion. The box lies waiting, balanced against the shut door, for the opportunity to spill its miniature plastic houses, cars, and money across the floor when you open it again. That's not power, that's force and it gets messy.

2. Power based in competence does something else entirely

Anyone can learn to wield power sustainably without producing force. The challenge is to learn which is which. David R. Hawkins delineates the differences between power and force in his book Power Vs. Force: The Hidden Detriments to Human Behavior:

"Force always moves against something, whereas power does not move against anything. Force is intrinsically incomplete and has to be constantly fed energy. Power is total and complete in and of itself and requires nothing from outside. It makes no demands and has no needs. Because force has an insatiable appetite, it constantly consumes.

Power, in contrast, energizes, gives forth, supplies, and supports. Power gives life and energy. Force takes these away. Force always creates counterforce; its effect is to polarize rather than to unify."

I think the most telling characteristic of force is indicated in the last line: “Force always creates counterforce.” Anyone in a leadership position can understand what this looks like. We have all had moments when a request is met with resistance.

3. Competent power features respect, confidence, and transparency & gets it back in return

The power lies in understanding the intrinsic worth of the people you employ and your ability to lead them. Imagine that cluttered closet again, with the door forced shut. The game of Monopoly is stuffed between the shelves and the wooden door.

You kneel against the hardwood floor and sweep together the scattered cards, plastic houses, silver figurines, a dog, a car, and a wheelbarrow. You force the game between the cardboard sleeves for Sorry and Trouble again and again. The result is the same because the problem remains the same.

Similarly, employers and employees will experience the same frustrating results until someone is willing to clear the clutter and re-organize their thinking patterns.

RELATED: 10 Crucial Skills To Learn From The World’s Best Role Models And Leaders

Coach Monique DeMonaco is a Life and Leadership Coach and author of the book Most People Don't Need a Therapist, They Just Need a Change.