Leadership: Everyone else is taken

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Dennis and Bill were part of the first group of great bosses that I studied. Both were rated as excellent by their bosses, their peers and their subordinates. Other than that, they didn’t have much in common.

One was tall and square-jawed handsome, the other was short and unexceptional in appearance. One was deliberate, slow to take decisions, and unflappable. The other made decisions quickly and exploded in joy or frustration often. They were both great bosses because they did the things that great bosses do.

They both set clear and reasonable expectations, checked for understanding, then followed up to make sure understanding turned into performance. They both showed that they cared about and for their people with dozens of large and small acts every day. They both were consistent, the people who worked for them knew what to expect. And they were both scrupulously fair.

But they were all of those things differently. One thing I learned studying top performing bosses, is that there’s no one type, no one way. Every great boss is unique because every person is unique.

You will never be a great boss if you do it like someone else. That’s the danger of using role models too much or being guided too much by management books or persuasive mentors.

You have to use your unique set of strengths and weaknesses and values to shape the way you do the work that every boss does. You will be a great boss only if you are authentically you.

Here are some quotes to ponder.

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” ~ attributed to Oscar Wilde

“Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes!” ~- Bette Midler

“God will not ask me why I was not Moses. He will ask me why I was not Susya.” ~ Rabbi Susya

Do you have another favorite quote to share?

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