The best boss I ever had challenged me, encouraged me, supported me - and fired me. Sounds like an odd combination, doesn’t it? At the end I was angry and bitter – emotions that stick with me years later. I can honestly say that time has made a difference here; when I was freshly out of the job I would have been hard pressed to say anything nice at all. I won’t say all wounds are healed, but it’s definitely less painful.
The truth remains, he was the best boss I had if for no other reason than the effect he had on who I am as a manager and who I have become. I still find myself remembering events and conversations now, and I’ve been removed from there for years.
Is a memorable boss the best boss?
It’s hard to imagine not being influenced by anyone you work for or with in some way, however small. We all have a track record of memories and things that we learn along the way; for someone who’s also your supervisor it stands to reason that there would be even more effect on your life.
In my case I learned so much from my best boss; he was a mentor, on some level a friend, a fun person to talk to. It ended badly, but there was fault on both sides for that. As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of things that still stick with me from that time. I think that makes a big difference; if you learn something but it fades away did you really learn it? The best lessons sometimes are the ones you don’t figure out completely until later on.
So if it was so good, what happened?
It’s the obvious question; if things were good and you were learning so much, Karl, why’d you end up fired? The truth is, yes, I learned a lot and yes, I came a long way – but it still ended badly. From my side, pick your catch phrase. I was down in the weeds too far. I had my head in the sand and didn’t do everything I could to expand myself and the business. Tunnel vision is a rough deal, after all. There were signs and warnings coming my way, but I didn’t register them on some level.
On the other side I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t really believe in the things they were asking me to do. In that sense, I am better off being gone. For one reason or another the line had been reached.
I had made a lot of efforts to modernize the systems in the shop, and one thing he was asking me to do was move back to a more archaic (in my mind) system. The fact he hung onto that requirement made me think that none of the points he was pushing were correct or relevant; that clearly wasn’t true but it’s where I was at. Had he backed off on that change, I might have been more willing to buy in. Would I have been better off for it? I don’t think so; if it wasn’t that issue it would have been something else. It was time to make a change for both of us.
In the end, it was better on all sides. I wasn’t giving them everything I should have been, and they weren’t the best fit for me. Still and all, he stands as my best boss in the long run. That may change, of course.
How much difference can a boss make?
That’s a silly question, of course. The right boss in the right staff situation is invaluable. The best boss makes it all better. Staff stays engaged, customers are taken better care of, higher-ups are happier, financials look sharper… It’s all for the good. If you can do anything as a leader, do what you can to be that guy – the one that keeps the staff involved and makes a difference.