Efficiency of the team is efficiency of the business

How to be the Boss everyone wants to work for

Who is the best boss you ever had? What made this person the best boss? I’ve been fortunate to work for many amazing leaders throughout my career, and I’ve learned from all of them about the kind of leader I wanted to be. I’ve also worked for not-so-great bosses who made my work life very difficult, and, well, I’ve learned from them, too.

Many leaders believe their role is to mold their team members into what the organization wants. Or worse, into mini versions of them. This will only get you so far.

It’s an incredible privilege to lead people, to be responsible for developing future leaders. My goal as a boss is to support employees in being the best version of themselves (as defined by them) and help them reach their potential. As a leader, I want to bring out the strengths already within my team members and help them live their why.

This doesn’t mean I’ve always been the best boss. Despite my best efforts, I have unintentionally shut down conversations or rushed people along. I’ve held back on feedback because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, which ended up becoming a bigger deal later. All of that to say, being the best boss doesn’t mean being perfect. It means continuing to show up as the best leader you can be, because you want to serve others. Sure, it takes extra effort to understand what people need from you as a leader; help them feel valued; communicate what’s on your heart, even through uncertainty; and be truly inclusive. And when your team thrives, you’ll know it’s all worth it.


As I transitioned into a leadership role, I read about and reflected on the kind of leader and colleague I wanted to be. Around that same time, I came across an article that explained the concept of a User Manual, which is really just a description of the best way to work with someone. The piece, written by Abby Falik, founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, who learned about the concept from an article by Adam Bryant, the former “Corner Office” columnist for The New York Times, really resonated with me, as I wanted to help my new team understand who I am and how I approach my work, so we could build trust faster and I could learn how to best support them.

After reflecting on Falik’s post, I spent time writing my own thoughts about my leadership style and values, and I sought input from others on what they wished they had known about me earlier on. From there, I developed what I call an “About Me” document, which I shared with my new team in a group meeting in my first week on the job. Since that meeting, it’s become a foundational part of my leadership approach.

Creating your own About Me document can build trust and clarity with a new team or with a team you’ve worked with for a long time, particularly as a reset in the remote/hybrid world. Don’t take for granted that you know each other at work. Ask people to tell their own story.

Here are parts to the About Me document and prompts that will help you create your own.

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How would you describe your work or leadership approach? You may want to include your expectations of yourself and your team.

These are a few of my personal notes:

  • I commit to creating a work environment where you can bring your whole self to work.
  • I align with the model of compassionate directness.
  • I believe in celebrating progress.


Tell your team what is important to you: your values reflect who you are. Think about the experiences and aspirations that define you. If you spent time crafting your why statement, your team will benefit from knowing this, as it illustrates your motivation and purpose. Some examples of my philosophy include:

  • Family comes first. You define what family means to you, whether that’s a partner, children, parents, siblings, friends, or pets.
  • How to be successful at work: lead from where you are.
  • Trust is given on day one; it does not have to be earned with me. It can, however, be broken and is hard to rebuild.
  • I believe in being competitive with yourself and not with others.
  • I believe that success is everyone’s responsibility. And, finally, my why:
  • To help others achieve more than they thought possible, so that they can fulfill their potential and find joy.


Are you a morning person, or do you need two cups of coffee before you start your workday? Do you prefer to make decisions in hallway conversations or formal meetings? Be clear on what works best for you, so your team can maximize their interactions and time with you.

People get the best of me when . . .

  • They don’t ask for 2 minutes and then take 10 minutes. I value my time and theirs, so it helps when someone says, “I would like to get your thoughts before I present at that meeting later this week” rather than asking for two minutes without a topic.
  • Show me your thinking. I like to understand where people are coming from in their planning and decision-making when I’m serving as a resource.

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Everyone has a preferred way of communicating. Clearly indicate what works best for you, so your team doesn’t have to guess. (Hint: They will probably guess incorrectly.)

My preferences are:

  • Face-to-face over everything, and texting is a close second to keep me informed or to get a faster response in a time-sensitive situation.
  • In an email or document, put the ask or most important information up front.


Are you the kind of boss who needs data or relies on intuition? Are you someone who wants the full story or just the synopsis? Let your team know what you need to be successful.

I prefer:

  • If a project or task takes longer than expected, overcommunicate where you are in the process—even if there’s no action needed on my part—so I don’t have to wonder where things are. I call it the “non-update update.” I make a commitment to provide this to others, too.
  • If you’re unsure what I mean, please ask for clarification rather than guessing or trying to figure it out on your own. I’m not always as clear as I want to be, and I want to set you up for success.


Your authority amplifies your actions. Everything you do or say as a leader is being watched by your team. Furthermore, there may be something that worked for you as an individual contributor that doesn’t translate the same way now that you are a manager. For example: You may like to ask a lot of questions during a conversation, which helps you learn about a topic. However, your team members could interpret that you don’t trust their decisions—that’s the sort of information you’d share here.

For me, this shows up when . . .

  • I speak with passion and conviction. This can come across as if I don’t want to hear feedback. In reality, I’m open to other ideas and willing to change my mind.
  • Telling my team up front that my style can be misunderstood minimizes uncertainty about my intentions. It also clarifies that I want team members to offer their thinking and to be a partner in holding me accountable.
  • I move and think quickly, and I don’t expect you to do things exactly the way I do. It can be challenging for team members to know how much autonomy they have in how to do the work. I try to overcommunicate my expectations.
  • And as a general rule, if you’re the boss who often leaves it at, “Can you talk?” or, “Let’s discuss,” just don’t. Those are some of the worst sentences a boss can ever say. Keep in mind that it’s almost always misunderstood, and even an About Me clarification won’t change that. Always add a second sentence explaining the nature of the discussion so your team members don’t start packing up their offices.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality when you write this document! You can include a favorite quote, your role models, or a visual. All of these prompts are only suggestions, so do whatever works best for you to help your team understand you best. This is your opportunity to help your team thrive under your leadership by understanding who you are and how to work with you.

Of course, the most successful working relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding, so ask your team membersn to fill out an About Me document as well. You can provide them with the same template you used and then create a time to meet and discuss. After all, great leaders share who they are and care about who their employees are, too.

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