4 Ways to Tell if You are becoming “That Boss”

As a leader, it’s healthy to take a step back and see if you’ve become “That Boss.” You know, the one who nobody wants to work for and who doesn't have a shred of self-awareness.

I worked at a large corporation for 5+ years, and it was easy to tell which managers valued employees. It was also easy to tell which ones had their ego all wrapped up in their jobs and allowed it to ooze forth every time you were in their presence.

When I started out as an owner, I made a personal resolve not to be “That Boss.”

Lo and behold, that is easier said than done. After the first few years of doing whatever it took to get our business rocking, we came into a season where I was out in the field less. We had hired more people, and I was able to focus more on specific aspects of the business without being constantly connected to every petty detail. Naturally, I was able to distance myself and tune into the more “macro” vision of the company. That was a good thing, but it was startling to see how quickly I saw glimpses of my old bosses playing out in how I treated my employees. Here are four areas that can easily go sour when you are disconnected from your employees.


#1 – The Nasty, Knee-Jerk Emailer 

Hate mail, threatening emails, and complaints are never a fun reality of doing business.

A tendency we may have as a leader is to immediately react towards which team member was involved in this negative experience for a customer. Upon receiving it, I may want to forward the email to all employees so that they can see that somebody isn’t doing their job right.  Who is to blame?

Instead, take some time to figure out the specific complaint/situation. After doing some tracking, you may be able to be more specific in which team member was involved. Then, pull them aside and point out what you appreciate about the action they took with a (sometimes very unstable or irrational) customer, and point out your thoughts on another viable option of handling it.

It now becomes a learning experience instead of a bash fest.


#2 – Blame Passer

Often because we’re the name behind the company, when others make real mistakes and cause our company to look bad, we are the ones who get blamed. I may want to immediately pass the blame to somebody else: a co-owner, a team member, the government, etc. Here’s the thing: you have to take responsibility for errors or perceived errors in your business. Value others and realize that being a leader means owning responsibility and allowing room for human error. Swallow your pride and move on, striving to be better.


#3- The Prima Donna 

Don’t become too fancy for menial tasks. If you’ve come to the point that you’ve hired help to take on jobs that have given you the freedom to focus on other areas, that's great. But don’t be too high and mighty to do yeoman's work. Be willing to dive in now and then with the others and show that you are not above their work. You appreciate what they do. Sometimes, there may be a temporary need to answer phones, run a service call, etc. Be there to fill the need.

It’s amazing how much more respect I’ll get when I get back out into the field and work alongside a tech. I also like seeing that I can still relate to the tasks that really are what make up much of the business.


#4 – The “Back in My Day” Reminiscer 

If I am in a meeting with the team on Fridays and they start to throw in a complaint or hardship, I immediately want to bring up the past and all the sacrifices I made, and how if they think it’s hard now, they should’ve been around in the day when I was in their shoes.

Here’s the thing: they don’t really care about what you went through. You don’t need to compare. You can listen if you want, but again, if it’s just an emotional response to something not ideal, it’s really not an issue, and you can let it go. Eventually, they, too, will have to let it go. Don’t always be on the defense.

Remember how powerful an encouraging word is. When you get a positive review, share the report with your team! I remember how great it was when a boss gave me genuine praise for a job well done. It inspired me to strive even more to be that guy. By valuing others, you will naturally gain respect and will be less likely to be “That Boss.”


As should be our goal in leadership: “Create other leaders by having a heart for others.”



P.S. – If you're NOT on the leadership side of the business, we also have a tech tip that lets you know if you're becoming THAT tech.



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