What Makes a Great Boss?

by Sarah Duwe on October 20, 2021

There’s always “that boss” in your life. Or maybe it’s “that teacher.” Someone in a position of leadership who made you feel less than your true self.

Sunday, when Pastor Roger was sharing the message about leadership, he said “don’t let anyone look down on you.” That brought back a few not-so-fun memories for me. But I love how he followed it up by saying that while you can’t stop people from looking down on you, you can choose to not let it “stick.” Some things still stick despite my best efforts, but I started focusing on the leaders in my life who’ve lifted me up.

In reflecting on the message as a whole, I created a list of three characteristics of great bosses from my own work experience.

What Makes a Great Boss?

1. Trust

I can name a few bosses that stand out. To me, they are mentors rather than bosses. The common denominator in those relationships was trust. I had to work hard to build that trust, but once it was established they gave me free rein. Think of a retractable dog leash. In my experience, good bosses release that leash and allow people to use their skills accordingly. The bravest bosses even unhooked the leash and let me run free! Sometimes I deviated off the path and they had to guide me back, but most times it worked out in their favor… and mine.

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”Galatians 5:13

2. Loving Direction

The times when I “strayed off the path,” I honestly needed help. I was trying to do work on my own to “prove” myself. If I would have stopped and asked for help or direction, I could have stayed on track. Perhaps you’ve experienced the boss who had a heavy hand when you strayed. I’ve experienced that, too. Ugh. But the best bosses respond with love, grace and forgiveness… just like Jesus. No human can be compared to our holy God, but we can choose to lead others from the same position of grace and love as our Abba.  

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”Psalm 103:8

3. A Growth Mindset

It’s not always fun to admit we need help or guidance, but I’ve found that the best bosses are those who do just that. The best bosses are the ones who don’t have all the answers, who humble themselves, who listen to others and take counsel from younger generations, competitors, etc. They’re also the leaders whom you can humbly approach and admit you’ve made an error. Praise Jesus that He created us in His image to be capable of both humility and forgiveness!

“…’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”2 Corinthians 12:9

What positive things have the leaders in your life done that helped shape you? How can you lead others with the skills you have? Leave a comment below.

I’m very fortunate that I get to add another name to my list of great bosses: Roger Ellis. He has embodied these characteristics and more, and it’s an honor to celebrate his retirement with him. Join me in praying for Pastor Roger and the next Lead Pastor at Oakwood!

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