The Secret To Being The Best Boss (From Ladies Who Already Are)

By Kit Warchol of Career Contessa

Being your own boss is one thing, but when you're managing other people? Everything gets complicated. Fortunately, we've got the secret equation for becoming everyone's favorite boss straight from the mouths of women who already are. Because you started from the bottom, now you're here. Own it. 

Image via Elin Kling

Step 1: To be a great boss, you have to get bossed first.

"I think there is probably an impulse to go straight for the total freedom and want to haul yourself off the cliff, but it really is about instinct, validity and experience. And for me, having had the experience because I learned from people who’d been doing the job longer than I’d been alive was a wonderful education." 

-  Maggie Winter, CEO of AYR


Step 2: Hire the right people, not the "most qualified."

“When it came time to expand and hire employees, I took a less technical approach. I went with my feeling most of the time. I knew if I wanted to hire someone or not within the first five minutes of us meeting. First impressions are everything”.

- Toni Ko, Founder of NYX Cosmetics

“Don’t get me wrong, experience is important—but a smart, motivated, driven, and resourceful person can go the distance.”

Jodi Brufsky, Co-founder of BeyondYoga


Step 3: As a boss, you’re always “on.”

To be a really good manager you have to have extremely high integrity, great intuition, a sense of urgency and the ability to slowly build a really great reputation. Your reputation is everything. No matter where you are—at work or out and about on the weekend—you’re representing your brand."

Iris Sullivan, Manager of Talent Acquisitions at NastyGal

"If you’re the boss, you make a LOT of decisions all day long—for yourself and other people. Get good at it. Try not to obsess or overanalyze. Make decisions confidently."

Joanna Goddard, Cup of Jo


Step 4: Treat your team with dignity and respect. They are your equals.

Nurture your relationships and absorb all the lessons all the amazing people you work with have to offer.  

- Whitney Port

“Never say, ‘She works for me.’ Always remember that nobody works for you. They work for the job and for themselves and for a million reasons, maaaaybe if you are super awesome you are a tiny reason. But it’s always more accurate to say ‘we work together.’ This sounds dumb but I really believe it matters, not just language-wise but as a thing to keep in mind.”

Ann Friedman


Step 5: Lighten up

“In this age of selfies, we can’t take ourselves so seriously. It’s very important to be able to laugh at yourself.”

Leandra Medine, Founder of Man Repeller


Step 6: Sometimes, you just have to make the call.

“I think possibly what people working for one hate the most is indecision. Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision."

Anna Wintour



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