Vail Daily column: What makes a good boss?
“Boss: a person in charge of a worker or organization.”
I have been fortunate in my business career to have a lot of bosses whom I’ve learned from. I have been blessed with mentors, friends and professionals who have helped to shape my career. These professionals, knowingly or not, have also helped shape my perspective on business and the importance of relationships.
I consider myself fortunate in my role as president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership to have a lot of bosses; board members, municipal leaders, community stakeholders and more than 800 member organizations are all, in some way, my boss. We also have incredible staff at Vail Valley Partnership that I’m equally convinced are the boss of me. They motivate me to move forward in a positive manner that helps us achieve our organizational goals. Much like a good boss, I don’t want to let them down. After all, my co-workers are the folks “in charge of the organization” and the ones who constantly deliver on our core values of collaboration, engagement, service, integrity and responsiveness.
The common thread amongst my prior bosses and mentors is to expect — and hold people accountable to — greatness. These good bosses help coach people during challenging times and encourage them to strive toward continuous improvement and customer-focused efforts. I’ve tried in my career to do the same for my employees, helping them grow professionally and providing increased ownership of our efforts and outcomes.
I’ve tried to learn from all these people and to adapt the best of their styles into my own in a greater effort to be a good boss. I’ve learned from prior bosses that it is important to create a sense of ownership in my staff; to create a work environment that focuses on service and on results; to create a community-minded, mission driven organization that is respected throughout the community. Most importantly, I’ve learned that setting up employees with the tools to succeed and supporting them in that endeavor might be the most important thing a boss can do.
At some point in your career you come to understand that while a boss is the “person in charge of a worker or organization,” it is incumbent upon yourself as an individual to build your own success. It is not your boss that determines your outcomes; it’s your individual outlook, your work ethic and your inherent motivation to deliver on your organization’s values and services. Bosses can support or derail this, but the sense of motivation to succeed is inherently an internal trait.
I’ve been inherently motivated and have planned ahead for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my family would drive from Cincinnati to Colorado each winter for our holiday break. In seventh grade, I convinced my parents that we needed to stop in Boulder so I could take a campus tour of the University of Colorado because I knew that’s where I wanted to go to college. Imagine the looks of the high school seniors, taking a campus tour with a 13-year-old seventh grader.
I am hopeful that this trait of planning ahead helps make me a good boss and as a result helps Vail Valley Partnership members as we’re always looking forward in order to find ways to help our members succeed. We’re also always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves in order to allow our members to add value to our membership and to the community. The Partnership embraces our core values in order to achieve our organizational goals and to provide the tools for our members to succeed. We convene, collaborate and embrace challenges to increase the economic vitality of the community and our members. Much like the seventh grader on a college tour, we know what we want and we’re going to move forward to achieve these goals.
At a recent after-hours business mixer, one of my bosses (a partnership member) shared with me that he believes my job is “the best job in the valley,” despite having so many bosses. And I would agree that it’s the best job in the valley, but would argue that it’s a great job because of that fact that I have so many bosses.
Having so many bosses has made me realize that I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by committed volunteer board members, community leader and staff in my daily work at the partnership. I’ve realized in time that having so many bosses is a positive because we’re all in it together, and we are all invested in the outcome.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership.