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What are you looking for in your next boss?

30 August 2021

An activity I will often do with people is work with them to define the criteria they want for their next job.  Defining this criteria helps with decision making as you look at potential next jobs.

People define lots of criteria - levels of autonomy, types of challenges, salary, location, advancement opportunities...  One criteria I think it is really useful to define are the characteristics you are looking for in your next boss.

Your experience of your job is hugely influenced by your manager.  The relationship between you and your manager impacts lots of factors that make a job a good one - motivation, fun, engagement, discretionary effort, team spirit, progress, levels of stress... the list goes on.

Being clear on what you want in your next boss is therefore an important consideration.  It can be tempting to list characteristics that describe the perfect manager, but it is also useful to consider what your needs are, given where you are at in your career.  For example, you may be in a learning phase of your career, so a boss who is really big on being hands off and giving lots of autonomy (an admirable trait) might not give your the level of direction you need as you learn.

Here are some characteristics to consider as you define what you want in your next manager:

  • builds relationships;
  • gives autonomy;
  • outcome focused;
  • coaches, mentors, challenges;
  • inspires;
  • reliable and does what they say they will do;
  • caring;
  • calm;
  • has your back; s
  • ays thank you;
  • encourages innovation and failing forward;
  • celebrates achievements;
  • embraces flexibility....

When you know what you need and what you are looking for, you can use the selection process to test out what your new boss will be like.  Talk to other people who have worked with this manager, ask to chat with current members of the team, and ask the manager themselves.  If the manager doesn't meet all the characteristics you are looking for it doesn't mean you don't take the role, but it does mean that you will start with your eyes wide open.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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