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How to Be a Boss Like a Boss

Everybody wants to be a boss. Everybody wants the glory that comes with the job, the bragging rights, the validation, the salary boost, and the influence over company decisions. Everybody wants to take the credit for a team success, and everybody wants to be the one in charge.

But as almost all employees discover very soon after they reach the management level, being a boss isn’t all corner offices and fancy lunches. Leadership can be a rough road, and a slightly higher salary won’t always compensate for the challenges of management, like higher expectations, longer hours, and snickering employees who undermine your newly acquired authority. When you become the boss, you still have a boss (surprise!), and that boss expects you to please everybody, which often means pleasing nobody. As soon as you step into your new role, you may find yourself sympathizing with every bad boss you’ve ever had, from the control freaks to the space cadets.

So how can you make the most of your new responsibilities and become the world’s most perfect boss, that amazing ideal manager you never had? In honor of National Boss’s Day on October 16, we celebrate the cool bosses in our lives, the ones who earn the love of both underlings and upper managers. And we also offer a few words of advice for those who aspire to this role.

Punch up, yell up, and show all negative feelings in an upward direction.

Mad? Frustrated? Tired? Being asked to do too much with too little? Before you express these feelings, make sure you’re talking to someone who has more authority and more influence than you do. If you need to yell, rant, or blow off steam, point yourself toward a superior. Every time you speak to someone below you on the ladder, compose yourself and edit your statements carefully. Exercise diplomacy, dignity, and kindness before you say a single word.

You can’t please everyone, so please stop trying.

You cannot please all of your underlings and superiors at the same time. The sooner you let go of this illusion, the better off you’ll be. At the entry level, pleasing others simply means doing what you’re told with a cheerful smile, but as soon as you become a manager, the smile and the cheerful obedience have to go. Managers say no sometimes. It’s okay. They also frown. They reject suggestions from both above and below, they give non-negotiable instructions, and they criticize when criticism is warranted. This can be painful at first, especially for cheerful go-getters who are used to earning constant straight A’s and blue ribbons. But pull off that band-aid now, because the further up the ladder you go, the harder your conversations will become.

Listen to those below you.

Being criticized by an underling can be awkward, but the way you respond can influence your success as a boss. When you’re told you need to be better at bossing, listen, don’t close down. Keep in mind that this isn’t a power struggle, and push your ego aside. If you want what’s best for the company, you’ll do everything you can to give your employees the resources, time, tools, respect, safe working conditions, freedom, money, and support they need in order to do their jobs well.

Listen to those above you.

If you’re told to manage your employees in a way that doesn’t feel right or seem practical, keep an open mind. The managers above you have been in the bossing business longer than you have, and they probably know a few things that you don’t. Learn from their experience, and keep in mind that they have a wider vantage point and a broader view of company operations than you do.

Listen to yourself.

Follow your instincts while you solicit input from those around you. And if your instincts lead you into newbie mistakes and awkward screw-ups, so be it. Each time you fail as a boss, you learn a little more about how not to fail, and you get a little bit closer to becoming the cool boss you want to be. Give it time, and don’t expect too much from yourself too soon.

—Keep climbing, keep growing, keep moving forward, and visit MyPerfectResume for tools and tips that can keep your career on the rise.