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Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
After taking time off to publish a couple of books, I recently returned to the workforce. I’d been away from corporate America for nearly five years and, when I returned, I was miraculously given the exact same job I’d had five years before — with the exact same company, managers, and practically the same desk and chair!
When I’d left the job, all those years ago, it was with a mix of emotions. I had an incredible team of coworkers and a company that treated us extremely well. But more than anything, I had an amazing team of managers. Working for them again is truly an honor and a privilege.
My managers take sincere interest in me, as an individual. While we don’t all share the same faith, they honor the person God created me to be, assigning me to projects that play to my strengths while simultaneously pushing me a bit beyond my comfort zone. They trust me to figure out what needs to be done and they give me the freedom to do it. They don’t hem me in with a bunch of needless gazing over my shoulder. I update them regularly, and they redirect as necessary and cheer me on when I’m headed in the right direction.
Recently, I asked a group of people to share a few words about their favorite boss. I asked them, “Tell me about your favorite boss ever. What made that person a great boss?” Here are a few excerpts from the answers I received:
My favorite boss ever modeled teamwork by constantly asking for my novice opinion and by sometimes actually using my opinion to form her next steps. It empowered me to think creatively to consider my thoughts, opinions, and suggestions useful and worth voicing.
Very supportive. Gives me the space to do my job. I have a 1:1 mtg every Wed. As long as I keep her informed it is all good.
The best boss I had was a good coach. He asked what I needed support with, offered areas of improvement in a constructive manner, and gave me time and space to try things in a new way.
My favorite boss was a servant leader who saw more in me than I saw in myself. He was an excellent example of how to lead people well. His primary goal was to build a leadership team that could run smoothly even if he was not in the building.
The best boss I had trusted me to do my job well, and was sure to acknowledge when I did. He was also conscientious of his team member’s strengths (required everyone to do StrengthsFinder and a handwriting analysis upon hiring), and helped guide and encourage us within those strengths or overcoming weaknesses.
In the answers I received, the same five themes emerged:
- A good boss trusts you and gives you space to do your job.
- A good boss is accessible to their employees.
- A good boss knows your strengths and gives you opportunities to grow them.
- A good boss knows the value of each member of the team, and recognizes their own inability to get the job done without them.
- A good boss builds up their team with words of affirmation, encouragement, and appreciation for a job well done.
Additionally, respondents were consistent in stating what a good boss is not. A good boss is not someone who lords their position over you. As one respondent stated, “A great boss is one who realizes they are not the boss. [They are] a leader who creates an atmosphere of growth and safety for those who are working with them. It is not, ‘I am high and mighty and YOU are the lowly worker.’ It is more, ‘Let’s work together and get this project done.’”
Whether the bosses described in these comments were believers or not, they instinctively understood the importance of serving their employees and treating them with value. The bosses are remembered with great admiration — and rightly so — because they nurtured the inherent dignity in each person they served, beginning with the people who worked for them.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Who was your best boss, ever? What made that person a great boss?
Lord, thank you for the wonderful bosses I’ve had in my life. Thank you for the good things I’ve learned from my employers. As I’m given opportunity to lead, help me to remember the importance and value of each person who reports to me. May I be remembered well by them, for all the right reasons. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Instructions for Leaders and Followers (1 Peter 5)
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