Qualities that Make a Good Boss Unforgettable

Qualities that Make a Good Boss Unforgettable

Bosses, line managers, supervisors, managers... a person with direct managerial responsibility for a particular employee. 

I have had the chance to work with 9 bosses and 7 nationalities - 1 South Korean, 1 Filipino, 1 Kenyan, 2 Indians, 1 Australian, 1 British and 2 Singaporeans.  

It may sound unusual to have 9 bosses, but this was due to business transformation, organizational change and internal career transitions which led to a change in boss at times with the same company or role. 

I am glad to have worked with great bosses. And I picked up some veryimportant learning from them along the way which shaped my working style today. This article seeks to:

1) Pay tribute (they are still around and very much alive! So, don't get this the wrong way) to the bosses who made a positive impact

2) Share valuable leadership qualities that they demonstrated 

3) Hopefully inspire readers to become better bosses

A South Korean was the first business leader whom I reported to during my time in the Philippines. He was an inclusive leader, believes in the people agenda and I have plenty of time to have quality 1:1 dialogues with him on how we can engage and make people a competitive advantage for the Philippines business. We co-led numerous town hall sessions together. He is a visible champion of change management when we launched the migration of Order to Cash Shared Services Center to Manila.

He is a business leader who is never too busy for his people. 

I also worked very closely with a Regional HR Director, Talent Management who's a local based in the Asia Pacific Headquarters in Singapore and he taught me the concept of 'safety net'. On the first week of work, he impressed upon me with the following message,

"Zhi Rong, I will empower you to do things in a way that you're comfortable with, as long as it live up to our corporate values. Along the way, I'll always be your safety net. I'll support and provide the leverage you need to succeed"

Through him, I learned the powerful lesson on selfless leadership and what I call the purest form of empowerment. This became a valuable lesson which I practice today when I manage teams. 

At Mondelez International, it is a transformational experience. When I joined the makers of Oreo and Cadbury in 2013, I worked closely with SEA HR Director. She was a down-to-earth leader who speaks in candor. She taught methat our patience will achieve more than our force. Through her, I learnt mindfulness

Subsequently, I worked with the most cheerful leader of all times in my career - a wonderful Kenyan lady from South Africa. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Coming to work is a joy (and it was clearly double joy coming to work with her and in a company that sells chocolates!). She taught me thatnothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm! 

Then came along great bosses from India. They were calm and composed, and taught me the importance of figuring out how things really work in an organization through a deeper understanding of the business situation and culture. They are the natural historians, people who know so much about the company's mythology and the roots of its culture and willing to share.  

And last but not the least, the Brit whom I am working with today. He has a strong people agility like none other. I love the regular cadence we have where we connect 1:1 over face to face meetings bi-weekly. 

In these meetings, he never uses it as a channel to check on what I've been doing. Instead, he uses the meeting to understand the most important thing I am trying to do and how he can help. I go in to these meetings with him with the most important matter that I need to take action on. We focus on the wildly important.

We also believe in having fun along the way. We are not just bosses and subordinates, we are a mentor for one another (regular mentoring & reverse mentoring) and we stretched our thinking to develop better solutions everyday. 

So, if I were to summarize and put everyone of them together like a Autobot Transformer (as you can probably tell, I am a fan of Hasbro), an Optimus Prime i.e. super boss would be - Inclusive, a Champion of Change Management, serves as a Safety Net for his/her people, Selfless, Mindful, Natural Historians and Focus on the Wildly Important. 

I hope my sharing on the key learning from my bosses inspires you to take a moment to reflect on the learning you have gained working with your bosses.

If you are a boss, I encourage you to pause and look back at the valuable lessons you are imparting through your management actions and the positive impact you have made for your team. 

Be a unforgettable boss... for the right reasons of course! 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn

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