Be Good to Yourself by Making Your Boss Look Good

Abundance Collaboration Teamwork


This is a hard lesson many of us have to learn a few times in our careers. Here it is – the better you make your boss look good, the better things will go for you. If you get in negative competition with your boss, 99% of the time you will lose.

I’ve noticed that often inexperienced employees have difficulty seeing their bosses get credit for work they’ve done. Of course strong, confident bosses share credit and recognition for superb work and are usually very generous in this regard. But not all bosses are great. Some are just lousy. And most of us bosses are evolving combinations of strengths and shortcomings.

Former Apple genius and techno leader extraordinaire Guy Kawasaki, reinforces this concept of making your boss look good in his terrific book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions” He emphasizes doing the following Big 7 things for the Boss:

  1. Drop everything and do what your boss asks. Your boss’s agenda is your agenda if she/he asks. You may think it’s not too important or relative to what you’re doing, but trust me, it is. Your boss may not even be able to explain the reason it is important. Just do it.
  2. Under promise and over deliver. I learned this painfully over the years. I liked to communicate my enthusiastic intent to do assignments and therefore I risked making great work appear just good when completed. Be skillful at outlining the challenges with the assignment AND THEN hit a “home run.”
  3. Prototype your work. Test progress on your assignment early with your boss. She will be pleased that you “jumped on it” and also give you a steering correction if necessary.
  4. Show and broadcast your progress. Don’t pump and dump your work. Show milestones and accomplishments along the way. Keep your boss informed. Be your own PR firm. Don’t confuse modesty with naivety. Show your stuff.
  5. Form friendships. When you have lots of friends and supporters at work you increase your boss’s sphere of influence and by extension your relationship with him/her. Plus no one likes to mess with someone who has a large network of friends and fans.
  6. Ask for mentoring. Every boss has something to teach you and we all have egos. Bosses like to share their knowledge with genuinely interested people. Be sincere though, take the mentoring seriously or your relationship will deteriorate.
  7. Deliver bad news early. Again, this is something I’ve learned the hard way. Regardless of how bad the news is, telling it early gives you an opportunity to address it and do damage control. Don’t wait it; it will hurt more later. Trust me on this one.

 Character Move:

  1. Make a decision to give to yourself by making your boss look great. This is NOT “brown nosing” (a horrible phrase actually). It is being generous of spirit and just plain smart.
  2. Check where you are on the Big Boss 7, as I’ve named them above. Be honest. Even if you think you’re better than your boss, this is the right thing to do (unless your boss is doing something illegal and/or immoral of course).
  3. Consciously practice all of the above. Do it. Make your boss look good.

Applying the Big Boss 7 in the Triangle,


Respect at Work Pays & Everyone Wins

Management Organizational leadership Respect


I get ticked off when executives get all weak at the knees when talking about values like the three elements of the Character Triangle: Accountability, Respect, and Abundance. “Real business men and women” talk about margin, cash flow, EBITDA , etc. But talk about personal values and the board room blushes. Why?

Real leaders know that business effectiveness is about balance and that getting great financial results ultimately depends on what PEOPLE do and how they do it. However, to make those more attracted to just the financial metrics, note the following.

Jack Wiley is the founder and Executive Director of the Kenexa High Performance Institute. Last year his team surveyed more than 30,000 people who work in the biggest economies—including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. and learned that workers across job types, cultures, industries, and pay scales don’t want to just be paid. While a quarter of employees rate pay as their highest priority, 75 percent of what employees most want has nothing to do with taking home a bigger paycheck—they want RESPECT: recognition, exciting work, security, pay, education, conditions, and truth.

RESPECT Makes Financial Sense

Wiley’s group contrasted companies that have high and low ratings for all of the RESPECT items defined above and found that high-RESPECT companies outperform low-RESPECT companies. The following is an excerpt from Wiley’s article in the October issue of Leadership Excellence magazine:

• Employee Engagement. Employees who get what they want from their organizations are more engaged than their unfulfilled counterparts. Their scores are 40 percentage points higher when it comes to workplace pride, satisfaction, advocacy, and commitment.

• Operation Performance. High-RESPECT employees outscore their low-RESPECT counterparts by more than 25 percentage points when asked about their companies’ product quality, customer satisfaction, and competitiveness.

• Customer Satisfaction. High- RESPECT companies achieve excellent scores, and greatly out perform their low-RESPECT competitors on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

• Financial Performance. By correlating RESPECT scores against Diluted Earnings per Share, Return on Assets, and Total Shareholder Return, we found the high-RESPECT companies outperformed their low-RESPECT competitors across all three financial metrics.

Character Move:

  1. Recognize that most elements of RESPECT don’t cost much to improve. BUT it takes conscious and focused action. You need to be aware where you stand on the RESPECT continuum.
  2. Read Wiley’s work and the Respect chapter in The Character Triangle to better understand the behavior that supports building respect.
  3. Take action yourself. If you’re a manager, determine what action you can take in your area to drive reinforce it. Measure for it. If you are an individual contributor, lead by your action.
  4. Remember that RESPECT pays!

Respect as a dividend in The Triangle,