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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Happy Boss's Day From the Bahamas

Published October 15, 2010 7:07 PM by Glen McDaniel

I had no idea today was Boss's Day until I got a cute email from one of my employees saying "If I had a nickel for every time I  was glad that you are my boss, I'd be so rich I'd be mailing this from  the Bahamas." It was so funny; it made me laugh out loud.

I also thought back to all the bosses I've had over the years and tried to identify who was the best and what the good ones had in common. We can all identify bosses from hell and come up with a list of behaviors that make a boss an intolerable tyrant. But what makes for a good boss?

Without spending too much time or burning up too many brain cells, the common thread was quite clear (even if not all inclusive). Using the very best boss I ever had (and who is still a close personal friend) as an example, I can say right off that she:

Clearly articulated a vision. When there was a goal, a strategic plan, or a new initiative she clearly and honestly stated what it was, why it had to be done and somehow instilled the vision of how we could get there and how much better off we would be. So even bad news was seen as a challenge to be tackled by the team and not a disastrous mandate handed down from above.

Drew on employees' strengths. Knowing that every member of the team is good at something she would emphasize areas of strengths and give assignments that would make both employee and the entire team successful.

Treated each individual like a whole person. She knew who was married, had kids in college, was taking care of an aged parent or was going through chemotherapy. Nothing says "I care" more than a boss taking time to seek you out and asking how you are doing personally.

Treated everyone equitably. This might be hard because "equitable" does not always mean identical. But it means everyone is treated fairly and according to policy. It means there are no favorites or targets. Whenever there was disciplinary action or bad news to be delivered, the employee was more likely to accept them, knowing it was fair and not personal.

Was always ethical. Her morals would not allow her to do anything underhanded or ask anyone else to compromise their integrity. She was honest; even if she could not divulge information, she would not lie. She did not betray confidences.

Did not micromanage. She gave clear directions, providing the support and resources to get the job done She would provide feedback along the way, but never insisted on dictating every action and scripting every conversation. She did not send the message that you had to be identical to her in motive, philosophy and action to be successful.

There are certainly other qualities I can think of. But looking at my bosses from hell, I realize that they demonstrated very few of the qualities above. On the other hand all my best bosses demonstrated to some degree all of the above. More than that, I try to lead by incorporating those qualities.

Do you agree with the above? As a leader are you guided by the principles above? As an employee do your best bosses demonstrate those (or similar) qualities? What about your current boss?


I have worked in this profession for almost 20 years. Before that I worked in retail and I have never had a really good boss. I have not had a boss that did all the things you receommend. They were either very hard, or tried to be friends with everybody or played favorites. I thiink there are very few good bosses really.

Now I am what you might call a boss too. I try to be fair and treat everyone with respect but not everyone likes me. My own boss is lousy. I think the problem is that most people are not trained to be bosses they just get promoted and take all their bad habits with them to the new role.

Vijay S MLT November 11, 2010 1:42 PM
Henderson NV


One of the best things a boss can do is show support for workers. Even if the boss does not have the actual current competency to pitch in and help, he/she can still establish a presence, provide the resources (extra staffing etc) and care enough to be present during periods of high workload.

The bosses I remember most fondly are those who consistently establish a presence during crises, ask, "is there anything I can do?" and maybe give a good "atta boy" when it's all over.

Support is not always  actually doing the work it's saying, "I feel your pain" during a stressful time Then when it's over  taking time to say, "good job; well done."

Glen McDaniel November 5, 2010 9:04 PM

My boss refuses to pitch in athough we are very over-worked and under-staffed.  He believes labwork is a waste of his talents. Often he sits in his office reading e-mails.  He is only concerned with himself not how the lab is functioning.

Deborah Graves October 22, 2010 10:12 PM
Oak Park IL

Most bosses I feel are not very good. Either techs are promoted up because of long service and have no experience in management or managers forget what it was like to be  a bench tech. Either way they dont sit in the shoes of the tech. I agree that a person would be a much much better boss if they did those things. I would not get my boss even a plastic toy for boss's day. She doesny deserve it!

Jonathan Carter October 22, 2010 5:05 PM
Compton CA

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