10 secrets your Great Boss never told you

I have to confess. Were it not for a desk calendar that highlights various holidays,  I’d never know that Tuesday, October 16 is “Boss’s Day” in the United States. It’s an occasion that’s never been on my radar.

I also suspect that many employees think: Wait, What? Bosses get their say, their way, their pay — do they really need a day?

Frankly, the best bosses out there would probably agree. They didn’t sign on to management for the accolades — or to put it more bluntly, so that people might suck up to them on a daily or even once-a-year basis. As I write in my book “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know,” true leaders do what they do for the joy of helping other people succeed, while making products and services better at the same time.

But here’s something many employees don’t know. The best managers also keep  secrets from their employees — certain things they’ve strategically and wisely chosen NOT to share. It’s what makes them great bosses.

In honor of National Boss Day, I’m going to leak that classified data. It’s time to get it out in the open.

Here are 10 secrets your great boss never told you:

  1. I delegated an important task to you before you were completely ready for it.  But all I said was, “I know you can do it.”
  2. I bent an organizational rule for you at some risk to myself.
  3. I took the hit for a mistake you made.
  4. I changed someone’s negative perception of you.
  5. I didn’t show my frustration as you struggled a bit while picking up a new skill.
  6. I learned through the grapevine that you made a wisecrack or two about management. I shrugged it off, knowing good people deserve to vent.
  7. I set aside other tasks to give you full attention. I lugged a whole lot of work home because you needed my time.
  8. I coached you away from making a bad decision, leaving you confident you reached it on your own.
  9. I worked really hard to memorize the names of every person and pet in your family.
  10. I conducted a private and persistent campaign to get you that assignment, promotion or raise. When it happened, my message was simply, “You earned it.”

Why do great bosses keep these things to themselves? Simple. They do it to build the competence and confidence of their team members. In fact, the better you are as an employee, the greater the likelihood that your boss has kept you in the dark about these management mysteries.

So, should you mark the barely recognized National Boss Day by asking your leader if he or she has kept any of these secrets from you? And if you’re that boss, how should you respond? I share my opinion in this “What Great Bosses Know” podcast:

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  • http://techandlife.net/ Jason Smith

    love it. true story

  • http://twitter.com/bknabe Bert Knabe

    I can think of times when I believe my boss probably did each of those things. I didn’t know it at the time, but reading your list, I can think of an event for each item.

  • http://twitter.com/JillGeisler Jill Geisler

    Great additions, Doug!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent Jill! Some others based on what I do now…
    I realized you weren’t happy where you were and I helped move you to a department that was more suited to your strengths.I strongly believe you add value to this company so you and I talked early and often about how you can keep adding value by staying here.You applied for another job and wanted to leave the company. You told me (!) and I helped you realizing that neither side is served if you don’t want to be here.