Be your own amazing boss

Many people have suffered through an insufferable boss. It’s why Dilbert and The Office have been so popular.

Fewer people have experienced a fantastic boss, but for those who have, it is often a transformative experience. Good managers make things run on time and on budget. Great managers are always thinking about how to develop their people. They’re thinking about what skills people should be learning, and who people should be meeting, and projects people should try to be at a certain level in, say, the next 12-24 months.

Needless to say, if you work for yourself, no one is doing that for you. But as I was babbling on about this topic during a webinar last week, I found myself suggesting that those of us who do work independently should spend some time functioning as that fantastic boss for ourselves.

Just for fun, we can do this exercise in the third person. Let’s think about what skills Laura should be developing. How can she get some training there? What should Laura be doing in 6-12 months? How about after that? What do we need to do to make her ready for those steps? Are there people Laura should be meeting? How can we make that happen? What does Laura need in order to perform at her best?

Just as a stellar manager would be spending some of their strategic thinking time pondering these things, those of us who manage ourselves should also spend some strategic thinking time on these questions. What do Laura and I want to be covering in her next performance review? How can I make sure that Laura is spending her time on the things that Laura is well-positioned to do?

All good questions…and good questions to ask ourselves. Sometimes the answers are interesting. My inner manager definitely wants me to work more hours right now (she’s a bit of a task master) but she has ideas on how to make that doable. She’s thinking we should just write with abandon during NaNoWriMo to flesh out some ideas for revising a previous novel. She’s also wondering why I haven’t replaced my phone that stops working randomly given that she’s already approved the expense.

Anyway, it could be an interesting exercise to try. If you work for yourself, why not try role-playing a fantastic manager, and see what he or she would have you be doing? Especially as we enter annual performance review season, it could reveal some important thinking about where things have been and where they should go.

In other news: Definitely sending hopes for safety to everyone in Florida. Some very scary photos coming out. My husband has gotten word from his relatives who live on the west coast of Florida and they are all OK. I am hoping that is the case for everyone else.

3 thoughts on “Be your own amazing boss

  1. I feel like this exercise can still apply to people who do have bosses. I really like my boss. He lets me do my thing with very little oversight or direction which is great at this stage of my career. He’s there to support me if I need something but stays out of the way most of the time. He also manages a TON of people and has his own deliverable so he really doesn’t have time to be a hands on boss. So it’s kind of up to me to manage my career, figure out what I need, who I need to meet, etc. Which is how I would prefer it!!

    1. @Lisa – very true! Bosses like this are quite rare. Amazing when you find them, especially early in your career. But rare! So we all need to do this work in directing our careers.

  2. Hi Laura, you make some really good points here! I’m self-employed (run my own digital marketing business) and actually if I pretended that ‘me’ was managing ‘me’ a bit more stringently, I’d probably progress more. I’m organised, but I rarely think about what extra training might help me to further my career- think I might give this a go!

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