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The Hunt for a Better Boss

Written by

The Hunt for a Better Boss

by Bill Catlette



As an executive coach and former HR leader, I’ve had hundreds of people ask my advice on how they might get another job, or in some cases, a particular job. Does my resume look okay? Will you coach me on interview skills? Can I use you as a reference? Do you know anybody at ABC Co.who might be helpful to my candidacy?  

I’m not special in that regard. Everyone who works in this space is credited with having expertise that might help give someone better focus or perhaps an inside track on their job search. I’m not sure that we always live up to that expectation, but here’s what I am sure of: Too often, people are asking the entirely wrong question. Instead of directing the majority of their attention on the title that would be on their new business card, or the corporate name on the paycheck, they would do well to pay particular attention to the human being that they would actually answer to, and the others on that team they would be joining.

Think about it… It’s been said and repeated ad nauseum that people don’t leave jobs or companies so much as they leave bosses. I happen to agree with that sentiment, and even have some names and faces of my own to apply to the milk cartons for good and bad bosses. But if that’s the case, why aren’t we a bit more mindful of that when starting a search for a new job, ‘er boss. Really!

So, if you, ah-hem know anybody who might be in job search mode soon, here are a few suggestions for them:

  1. Learn from history. Thinking about the people you’ve worked for in the past, who were your most and least favorite bosses? What made them your most or least favorite? If this is your first job, substitute teachers for bosses. Develop a short list of characteristics that you would like to have in your next boss, e.g., someone who is a good teacher, or someone who is not a micromanager. Think long and hard before accepting a job with someone who lacks any of your minimum qualifications.
  2. Think about what you hope to get from your next job. Are there specific things you want to learn, or experiences you want to gain? With that in mind, answer the question, “How do I learn best?” The triangulated answer to these questions should give you added insight into the type of person your ‘best boss’ might be.
  3. As you work into the interview phase for your next job, without becoming a stalker, learn as much as you can about your potential boss. Ferret out what makes them tick, and what their own goals are. Compare that with your own situation, with an eye for areas of conflict or alignment, and be guided accordingly.

Finally, resolve to strive for better “boss alignment” on your path forward. There really are Leaders of Choice out there. Find one that is worthy of your best effort, then give it to them!

If you would like to take this topic to a different level in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.

Bill Catlette

Bill Catlette, @ContentedCows is an executive coach and business author who helps clients build lasting competitive edge by eliminating blind-spots and improving leadership habits. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.