Best Boss Ever!

Back to leadership basics in 2022

Why did 2021 leave us with so many work environment leadership challenges that none of us saw coming at the beginning of 2020? We’re struggling to manage a blended (at home / at the office) workforce and either losing workers as part of the Great Resignation (yeah, that was predictable) or trying to entice talent we let go during the pandemic to come back to our company.

That’s what most of us are facing in 2022. What worked in 2019 didn’t work in 2020. What worked in 2020 didn’t work in 2021. What in the world can me make work in 2022?

The basics. That’s right, let’s get back to the leadership basics in 2022. I’m a firm believer in the adage: “leadership hasn’t changed much in a couple thousand years” and often use the phrase like a club in mentoring and leadership development .

Why am I so confident in the basics? BECAUSE THEY WORK! When’s the last time you heard a service industry employee say unsolicited, “I have the best boss ever!

It had been so long for me that I was stunned when I heard it.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

Here’s the story: I was simply picking up my laundry near closing time one evening when I expressed my appreciation that this small, local dry cleaners was able to stay open through the long period when none of us were getting our business clothes dirty. The woman helping me nonchalantly replied, “That’s because I have the best boss I’ve ever had.”

To be honest, I was so surprised I didn’t even ask her why… until the next day. I went back and asked what made her boss the best.

  • “He talks to us, not at us.”
  • “He has a large workforce but makes an effort to know each one of us individually.”
  • “He made sure each of us was okay with reduced hours during the pandemic but never had to let anyone go.”
  • “If we make a mistake, he helps us learn from it and how not repeat it.”
  • “If there’s conflict in the workplace, he addresses it immediately and helps us resolve it so we can all work together cooperatively.”
  • “He takes time to talk to me as a person and really listen; I feel like he genuinely cares how I’m doing.”


You can accuse me of making this stuff up for the sake of business development or because I ran out of things to write about, but that would be your loss. This is the unadulterated result of real-life leadership, and it’s so basic that we should be embarrassed if our team doesn’t already feel like this person does.

Think of those bullets as a to do list in 2022… and beyond.

So I’m going to call this boss Karl, because I want you to think of him as a real person and not just the boss. That, and the only guy I actually know named Karl couldn’t possibly be confused with the boss.

I wanted to find out where Karl got his secret leadership sauce, so I called him. Surprised and with humility, he quickly told me he didn’t do anything special… which was true. None of the statements above reveal anything special, except maybe not letting anyone go because of COVID.

Karl succinctly summed up his leadership philosophy’s source: “I had a great boss when I was younger.”

From watching his boss, Karl came to believe it’s not all about making money but also about helping others – especially his employees. Karl asked, “Who else is going to help those who work hard catch a break if not us bosses?” Great question.

Because Karl knows all his employees individually, he can tell when someone’s a little off and looks for little things he can do to make a difference. I dare say that while some of us may notice when our folks are having a bad day, few of us would take the next step like Karl.

How about that last bullet up there? Really Listens and Genuinely Cares!!! Not nearly enough of that in the workplace – or in the home or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Karl tries to live out his “If you care, I care” motto with his people, and it shows.

One of a leader’s top responsibilities is developing new leaders. I’m glad Karl’s boss took that responsibility to heart… and so are Karl’s employees.

So what can we do that we know will work in 2022? Leadership basics. Let’s dust off our basic leadership skills and start the year off on the right foot, shall we?

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.