The secret to being a ‘boss’ boss.

On a recent trip to the UK, I had the good fortune of meeting up with an ex-Manager of mine who I haven’t worked with in over 10 years.  We spent some of our time together reminiscing about the experiences that we had shared while working together. I left the lunch feeling both nostalgic and privileged about the opportunities I have had by working for unforgettable people. As I think back over my career, the single biggest factor in determining whether I was happy, productive, recognised, developing or duly rewarded was my boss at the time. Good bosses or managers are the best thing you can have while shaping your career.  

Throughout my career, I believe I have been lucky. For the most part, I’ve worked with inspirational leaders who had a vested interest in my career growth and success. I’ve never been in a role where I haven’t felt as though I was developing or learning, and I have worked for many people, with different leadership styles, who were committed to my development. What made them great leaders or bosses? If I think about it, it was different things each time but, if I were to try and sum it up, it boils down to 5 key factors: Cutting-edge, Committed, Consistent, Concerned and Conclusive.  

Cutting-edge innovation: Getting you to move out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself to ensure you are growing, learning and innovating constantly. This is the person who puts you on a continual learning journey, always sees more in you than you may see in yourself and helps you to see it too. They are leaders who are passionate, push the envelope, dream big and show you the kind of big ideas that you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.  My best example of this was when my boss at the time asked me if one of the vendors who was supporting me in a local role, could fulfill that function for the countries in the rest of the world. I hadn’t even considered it or how it would work but she planted the seed and left me to make it grow.  


Great bosses are committed to coaching and development. They move obstacles out of the way for their teams and recognise what’s unique about each team member. They know their strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes, and they use these insights to draw the very best from each person. I had experienced a significant challenge with a global team leader where I had not followed global protocol due to the demands from local leadership. My boss got on the phone, explained the situation of balancing global and local requirements and calmed the waters – leaving me with a win/win all round.  

Consistency is key

Consistency in their style, consistency in their feedback and decision making, consistency in their ability to not micromanage and empower their people to make their own decisions – a great boss is always consistent in their approach. I believe that I work best with people who inspire others to take accountability and responsibility for their own work area while providing high level guidance.  

Concerned and caring 

A great boss is concerned and cares, and they pass this habit onto their team. Unforgettable bosses are passionate about what they do. They are human and they are humble. They believe in what they’re trying to accomplish and they have fun doing it. This makes everyone else want to be like them. My trip to London was one of the best examples of this – it’s been more than 10 years since we have been in touch, but we picked up like it was yesterday. Human to human, we can’t ask for more! 


Coherent decision-making, open and honest, providing direct feedback and definite in their approach.  A great boss doesn’t pass uncertainty down to their team members but handles pressure with ease. A great boss is open to addressing their mistakes so that everyone can learn from them and relates to their people as a person first and a boss second.  It takes a truly good person to admit to one of their team that they may have been wrong and to work together to fix something. That is where some of your great learnings come from.  

There is a quote that says “In most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and getting out of their way”.  Need I say more?! 


Nikki Benfield is the Global Lead: Business Development at VentureWeb who has been lucky enough to have had 5 great bosses. Like what you read? Contact Nikki here.  

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