Often, people think that if somebody is very good at what they do, this automatically qualifies them to be promoted to a leadership position. This, of course, could not be farther from the truth. It works the same in academia and in the corporate world. Somebody can be a top performer, or a fantastic scholar and teacher, but when promoted to be the leader of the group (the manager, the departmental Chair, the Dean, etc.), they turn out to be completely inept in this new position and end up destroying the team, the company, or the department.
Being a good boss and a leader of people is a gift that is entirely separate from any other achievements an employee might have. I do not possess this gift in the least, but my admiration for those who do is profound. We all know what a bad boss is like and how fast an inept leader can destroy years of progress made by a team, a company, or a department. Good bosses are a rarer breed. At least, in my experience and in the experience of my friends and relatives.
I have come to appreciate what it means to have a good boss in the past year. (As of now, my boss still doesn't know that this blog exists, so I can write nice things about her to my heart's content without feeling like a brown-nosing idiot.) I have a great boss, people. And when I say great, I don't mean a nice, cute, giggly pushover. This is a person who is insanely hardworking and she pushes everybody to work just as much. She lives at the department and we get messages from her evenings, nights, weekends, holidays, etc.
But she also knows how to motivate exceptionally lazy employees whose only goal is to procrastinate and have a good time (for those who are new to this blog, that would be me). I have never in my life thought I would volunteer for as many things as I do. And the only reason I do it is because I want to do something nice for my great boss.
The way she does it is by showing that she really cares about the employees. A day doesn't go by when she doesn't come by my office to ask how I feel, if everything is ok, if I need anything, if I'm getting all the materials and support I need for my work, if all of my issues have been resolved to my satisfaction. As a new employee, I don't know how things work yet but I have my boss constantly on the lookout against any unfairness that might be committed against me. I don't even need to watch out for my interests because I have somebody to do that for me.
Another thing she does (and I have no idea whether it is intentional or not) is activities that make you feel encouraged at the most difficult points in the semester. Sometimes, you feel exhausted and only want to go home and sleep. And then, you would get a letter or a card from the boss listing all the things that are wonderful about you. And then, of course, you have a surge of energy to be even more productive.
Having a good boss truly makes all the difference in the world.