In order to become a great boss, you first must be a great employee.
At 19, I started working for “the phone company.” Little did I know that it would be the place I launched my corporate career, put together my first corporate event, held my first nonprofit board position and had my first six-figure salary year.
But NONE of that came before I paid my dues. Starting out as an operator, the lowest paid and lowest on the totem pole, it was a very strict environment – two 15 minutes breaks, a 30-minute lunch and you’d better not get back to “the board” late. Calls came in non-stop so there was no time to converse with co-workers and unless there was an emergency, only one person was allowed out for a restroom break at a time. And all for $247.50 a week (yes, you read it right). But, what I learned from all of that was discipline, humility, responsibility, teamwork, consideration for others, how to manage on a small salary and how to invest in a 401k (shout to Sue if you ever see this).
There is nothing that I expect my team to do that I haven’t done or wouldn’t do. Yes, I delegate tasks. However, I will roll up my sleeves and get dirty with the best of them. And because I know what it is to be a hard-working, dedicated employee it is easy for me to recognize and appreciate that in others and to set my expectations accordingly.
If you want to be a great boss, first be a great employee. And when you do become a boss, you still have to be your own best employee. Lead by example, teach others to succeed and take no one for granted.