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Published: Thursday, 4/28/2005

Let us now pay tribute to bosses with virtue

We had a ridiculous amount of fun recently, going through all our Bad Boss stories.

Remember? Ooooh. Scary...

During all of that, prompted by a reader who chided me for overlooking employers' more kind-hearted sides, I also promised to get around to collecting everyone's Good Boss tales.

And now that time has come.

Hey, it's safe to say we need antidotes for a world over-run with examples from the John Bolton School of Management, don't you think? (See: shrieking bullies who intimidate.)

So go on, tell me all about the time your boss (fill in the blank). And don't leave out that day your former boss was good enough to (fill in the blank). Oh, and we can't overlook that boss who once pulled you aside and said: (fill in the blank).

That's right. You have to fill in the blank. These are your experiences I'm fishing for.

Back when we went over all the Bad Boss stories, a few things took me by surprise, not the last of which was how many of you served up stories of bosses with little or no respect for your family obligations. To tell you the truth, I'd been expecting tale after tale of bosses who sabotaged the work of underlings, who stole ideas they never gave credit for, who jerked around workers' vacation schedules, who demanded perfection after doling out mountainous, weekend-wrecking workloads.

That kind of thing.

But in fact, I mostly got a never-ending series of stories about bosses who had not one iota of respect for the notion that their workers are also fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, aunts and nieces, grandsons and grandfathers, and so on and so forth.

It's no wonder we're starting to hear more about state legislatures like Illinois, where the Senate recently passed a bill entitling working parents to 24 hours of unpaid work leave per school year to attend their kids' school conferences or help out with their classroom activities.

This time around, I'm betting I'll hear from scads of workers grateful for even the smallest, unlegislated demonstrations of supervisors' compassion, empathy, and sheer humanity.

We do know what we won't find in your entries. We won't find examples of bosses who are control freaks, who can't be bothered to listen, whose impulse control is nonexistent, who consider humiliation an effective management tool, and who believe shouting is something to be done daily.

Funny, but it's not hard to describe a good boss. To get you started, I've pulled a few employee tributes from the Web site toxicboss.com. Notice how uncomplicated these attaboys are:

"My boss listens to what I say and doesn't put me down in any way."

"My boss is fair and really cares about my work."

"My boss tells me what he'd like done, offers support if needed, then leaves me to do the work. I equate this with respect and confidence, and I work harder for my boss because of it."

I'll leave it to the rest of you to fill in the blanks with specific examples from your own workplace lives.

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