• Nancy Mendelson

What makes a great boss?

He seemed the least likely person to become the most incredible boss. Wasn’t thrilled about heading up our department—it was a lateral move for him, and we figured he was going to be like every other “Guest VP” who viewed us as a stepping stone to get to where they really wanted to be.

From day one it became evident that was not the case. After meeting with us as a group and being genuinely interested enough to ask us to help him understand what we did or how we did it, we could see that he was becoming enthusiastic about his new gig. Then, unlike most new bosses who would have us come to them individually, he came to each of us.


“You know you have men reporting to you who make more money than you,” he told me, shaking his head in disbelief, as he stood in my doorway. “That’s so wrong…we have to fix this!”


Of course, I knew! From former department heads to HR, everyone knew, but no one ever said or did anything about it… including me. This was 35 years ago…a different time to be sure. He did fix it…went to the mat for me without my even asking.


From that day forth he became our champion. He led us in good times and through some turbulent times in our industry. He led us in a way that allowed each of us to shine as individuals while positioning the department as a force to be reckoned with and respected. He was tough, fair, inspiring, supportive, honest compassionate, and had great integrity. He became the benchmark…the standard by which I measured all leaders, male or female, and by which I measured myself.


They say you never forget your first…and that goes for outstanding bosses, too! And today I am grateful to call him my friend.


During this unprecedented time of uncertainty and upheaval, inspired leadership is essential. We all have it in us to step up and measure up. Check out these links to see how many of these traits you have.

8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership, Forbes

Traits of Great Bosses, Insperity

7 Things That Make Great Bosses Unforgettable, Forbes