Thank God for Bosses!

March 2, 2015

You don’t have to look far to look far to see the verbal abuse bosses take. Whether it’s water cooler gossip, happy hour banter or social media posts, people aren’t happy with their leader and don’t hold back when telling why. Some are more politically savvy and only think what others say out loud.

Forbes reported recently that as many as two million employees quit their jobs each month. One of the most significant reasons: they dislike their bosses.

It’s only fair to acknowledge that some managers earn their scorn. I should know, one of my jobs as an organizational development consultant is to help make bosses better bosses. I suppose if everyone was already excellent, I’d have less to do. But it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due. So let’s take a closer look at the great things bosses do.

Business Woman

Provide Direction

If you’ve ever been a newbie (and who hasn’t?), you probably remember the excitement at taking on a new opportunity. Unfortunately, it quickly turned into disillusionment when you realized how much you didn’t know about how to get the job done. Enter the boss. A little fog-clearing direction and you are on your way to making a meaningful contribution.

Share Knowledge & Experience

In many cases, bosses have been further down the road. That’s usually one of the reasons they’re in the role. Just one quick tip or tweak can save an incredible amount of time, effort and money (not to mention grief).

Help Us Develop

Not all bosses have a development mindset, but the good ones absolutely do. Whether it’s helping to complete an Individual Development Plan, evaluating a past project or designating development dollars in the department budget, every little bit counts.

Protect Us from Management

There are many bosses I served in the military with who I’ll never forget (for better or worse). One of the things I appreciated most about one former Army supervisor was his willingness to fight the bureaucracy on our collective behalf when in some cases it would’ve been easier to just go with the flow. The effort wasn’t lost on any of us regardless of the results.

Represent Us to Management

In recent times, a boss’s word was considered to be the “voice of God” in the organization. It’s not that cut and dried any more. Nevertheless, it is still extremely hard for good things to happen in the organization without a boss’s support. Bosses have the access to bring your name up when new opportunities are being discussed. Their vote can often get you much further than you could ever get on your own.

Solve Our Problems

If you’ve ever screwed things up royally, your boss may be the last person you want to face. Fortunately, he or she is usually the best person to help you make things right. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time I sent $77 million to the wrong bank as a recent college grad. I was in a pickle and didn’t have much of a choice but to ask my boss for help before things got worse. Not only did my boss help me resolve the situation relatively quickly and painlessly, he helped me save face in the process by emphasizing the complexity of the situation rather than my own oversight. Thank God for bosses!

One final note – many people assume that if they could just work for themselves, they’d forever solve the boss problem. It’s not always true. In his book Creative Followership, Jimmy Collins recounts the realization of his own limitations as a self-employed individual. He finally made the decision to fire himself and find a better boss who could provide the opportunities and support he needed.

I hope you’ve got a great boss. Regardless, let’s give credit where it’s due. Bosses do so much for us. We’d be a lot worse off without them.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.