Female manager

I recently attended an interview with Aly Raisman, Olympic gymnast and multiple gold medal winner. As she talked about her overwhelming love for her sport the lady next to me leaned over and said I wish I loved anything that much. She is certainly not alone in that feeling.

There’s a reason why many of us hold athletes up as heros. They represent a drive and determination that many of us are only too aware we don’t possess.

In the days that followed I found myself watching videos of Aly and her US teammates at the Rio Olympics. This was her comeback. At 22 she was considered old for the sport. Her dedication along with the support of her coaches however, helped her prove that she only got better with age.

As I watched more videos, I started to become more fascinated by the relationship between the coaches and the gymnasts than with the gymnasts themselves. I realized we all need to look for a coach vs boss.

Mentors have long been touted as a must have for professionals to help ensure career success. But what about your direct boss? If all bosses took on the responsibility of serving as a coach and being as dedicated to his/her team, there would be more job satisfaction and better team productivity. I’m sure many people might also fall more in love with their work, knowing they have someone in their corner pushing them to be their personal best.

It’s hard to find a good boss though. We often think a good boss is one that leaves us alone and lets us do our work our way. That approach comes with benefits for sure but I encourage you to think of things another way. Next time you’re looking for a new job, really look for a good boss over what seems like a good job.

All the people I know that have made huge strides in their careers have one thing in common. They all had a boss who took them under their wing and took an interest in their professional growth.

Their job satisfaction skyrocketed and over time they developed a real love for their work. They also developed a drive to learn more and do more and developed a sense of real accomplishment as they moved on to bigger opportunities.

The issue is how do you find a good boss?

Sure, you’ll want to ask potential boss about their management style, but do your research. Try to find the person who previously held the role. What have they moved on to? Are you able to reach out to them to ask questions about their experience working at the company? You’ll also have the opportunity to talk to potential teammates. Asking them about the boss’s managing style is a good starter question but will only yield so much.

Try asking what the top three things are about working for the boss and see how quickly they are able to respond. You’ll also be able to tell a lot by their reaction to the question. Finally, there is nothing wrong with letting a potential boss know that while you’re looking forward to the role and working for the company, you’re also looking to work for someone who takes a real interest in developing talent. Then ask for some examples of how s/he has made sure to keep employees growing and engaged in their work. A look of shock as an initial reaction may tell you all you need to know.

Your career is your Olympic marathon. With a lot of hard work, dedication and support, you just might get a medal too.