by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
I spent the first half of my career wringing my hands over bad bosses and wondering which of the angry gods was punishing me THIS time, and why. It took me some time to figure this whole boss thing out. Maybe you can relate!
For a long time I was caught up in the unfairness of their behavior, or the unbelievable reality that they were still employed and reigning terror on multiple employees. When the LIGHT finally went on in my head I realized that each and every one of my “bad bosses” was a wonderful teacher and in many ways, more critical to my leadership development than the good bosses I have had (I have been lucky to count some really terrific people as bosses across my career).
Bad bosses show us what NOT to be; how NOT to act and the ways we can avoid becoming a pain in someone’s backside. From high & mighty bosses we learn humility because we’ve seen how important it is to us and to others. From clueless bosses we learn how critical it is to know our industry and the work, because we’ve lived the insanity of working for people who know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to earn our respect. From mean bosses, we learn that terror is not a motivating factor and from spiteful ones we learn that employees have long memories – because we have never forgotten.
If we have paid attention, we have learned everything we need in terms of how NOT to be a boss, but most of us have also had some pretty good bosses. It seems fitting to end on the high note of the good ones, whose personalities, competence and leadership have supported and uplifted us in ways that allow us to overcome the lousy ones, and for this, we are ever-grateful.
There are those bosses who recognize our skills and talents and who have enough self-esteem and confidence to allow us to shine and grow because they know that it takes nothing away from them. There are the bosses who “go to the mat” for us with THEIR boss when they know that an opportunity has arisen that promises to be a career game changer for us, and they care. There are the bosses that recognize that our success is their success and who make everything about the team, and not their own personal accomplishments. And there are the bosses who know enough not to discuss benefits of their position and salary with people who might be struggling with the basics. Perhaps my favorite are the bosses who are OK with being wrong, and bosses who know how to say, “I am sorry.”
As Coders, you may be on your first boss, or have had a few bosses in the past. You’re sure to have more in your future, too (a good thing as it means you have a job!). I invite you to join me in being grateful for ALL the things we have learned from bosses; the good ones and the bad ones. I encourage you to work hard as you progress through your career and grow as a Coding professional, working hard to live up to the bar that’s been set for you by the good bosses you’ve had, and to pass on that legacy of a good boss to the next generation of Coders.
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