So there's this very common thing that happens in business (hell, everywhere): apparently popular people are the ones more likely to get promoted, but when they do, they can often turn into mean people. I think psychologists call this "the paradox of power" but for those of us who have had first-hand experience with these kinds of folks, we just call them jackasses.
There was a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal (almost SEVEN years ago!) describing this exact phenomenon in much finer detail than I ever could - I remember the day I read the article because it was one of those light bulb moments, where you just want to shout, "Yes! I know EGGSactly what they're talking about!" But it was also scary, because if I'm the boss (which I was), does this mean I've become a jackass without realizing it? Well, that question leads to today's hack:
Be the boss you always wish YOU had.
It's just that simple. We all know HOW we want to be treated, managed, or spoken to. If we walk our talk, we even treat others that way. So the best way to become a really good boss is to be the kind of boss you wish you had. Let's say it's early in your career, and your orientation and on-board training with your new company wasn't the best. Maybe people didn't go out of their way to show you the ropes or help you find the information you need. That's a note to self - something you can/will fix once you're in a position to do so. Or maybe you work for a micromanager who's all up in your business, never offering helpful advice but always hovering in a way that's transmitting some kind of weird distrust. Perfect blueprint of who you DON’T want to be (but – also make sure you’re not doing something that’s actually manifesting that distrust, but that’s another hack for another time). So, how to be the boss you wish you had?
Pay attention to this stuff BEFORE you decide to put in for that promotion. Which bosses are good? Why? Is it the way they treat the staff? Know their shit? Produce the results? My mom used to tell me to dress for the job I want, not the one I have. That advice holds for boss behavior too.
Not all nice bosses are good bosses. Sometimes you need a proper thwack and a good boss knows when it's time. And that thwack should come with actionable feedback and (believe it or not) have you feeling better afterward. A good boss is also a good teacher so pay attention to the high performers at work – what is their boss like and is their performance attributable to that boss’s guidance?
Think about what makes you good/special/different – not snowflake shit, I mean the stuff that other people mention or notice about you. Are you a good listener? A good translator of other people’s ideas? A fast thinker or concept grasper? The strategy person or the artist? Once you’re working with others it can be pretty easy to figure out why you stand apart. START THERE. Because authenticity is another thing that makes a great boss, and cultivating your personal style early (and centered on your unique qualities) will help you become a good (hopefully great) boss.
And lastly, NEVER forget where you came from. Stay in touch with the part of you that remembers being new, nervous, and lowly on the totem pole - it'll keep you grounded, approachable, and jackass-free.
I hope this helped, now go get shit done.