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7 Valuable Lessons From 7 Memorable Bosses
 

Whether they're a lifelong mentor or someone you not-so-fondly remember as 'Voldemort,' every manager you encounter has something to teach you.

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Every boss--good or bad--can teach you something, whether it's what to do or what to avoid at all costs. Here are just a few lessons from some managers who helped us along our life journeys.

1. Take time to ponder.

Donny Williams taught a young Chester this one day. He told him to go back to his office and just sit and think about the business: Where are we, where are we headed, and how can we get there faster? You might think of quiet time as almost impossible in a busy, connected life, but the best leaders take time to reflect and plan.

2. Enjoy the journey.

Glen Nelson has been a huge influence on both of us. When we started our own firm three years ago, this talented editor reminded us over and over to let go of past emotions and enjoy the journey. He’s right: the present is an exciting time if you are, well, present.

3. Put family first.

It's easy to get so focused on work that you seem absent at home. Thankfully we both married well and our wives keep pulling us back to what matters most: our loved ones. They are the bosses of our home lives, and we are very lucky Heidi and Jennifer haven’t fired us.

4. Run from bad guys.

We learned this lesson from a boss of ours we’ll just call Voldemort. (Okay, admittedly, he wasn’t really a hairless demon from the underworld who tried to kill us repeatedly. This guy had a full head of hair.) We’d always believed people were basically good inside, but Voldemort proved us wrong. We stayed too long with this manager and it caused more mental pain to us and our families than we could have imagined. The lesson: The bad bosses won’t change, so get away fast.

5. Some people won't 'get' you.

Years ago, after meeting our boss at time, one of our friends, sports executive Scott O’Neil, took us aside and said, "He doesn’t get you and he never will." It was the most startling and yet honest thing anyone had ever said to us. Scott explained that while we all have strengths, there are often naysayers around who try to drag everyone else down. If they are too powerful to ignore, then it’s time to get out of Dodge.

6. Love what you do.

Before Chester left to live in Italy for two years, his Italian teacher Chris Skeem gave him one instruction: Love everything Italian. Chester did, and it made learning the language and embracing the culture so much easier. "While things were very different in Italy, I had chosen to love everything Italian so every challenge was a wonderful learning adventure," says Chester.

7. Bet on character.

We were lucky enough to have Kent Murdock as a CEO for many years, and he believed in hiring for character over background or education. In betting on our characters, he gave us free reign to "make noise," as he called it, and we made sure to never disappoint him. You get what you hire for, and employees with character are never a bad thing to have.

These are seven lessons we remember. We’d love to hear the positive lessons you’ve learned from the best (or worst) bosses in your life. 

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Oct 11, 2013

CHESTER ELTON AND ADRIAN GOSTICK are the founders of The Culture Works, a global training and consulting company focused on creating great places to work. They are also The New York Times bestselling authors of All In and The Carrot Principle.
@chesterelton




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