Are you in charge of a team at the moment?
Were you before? Do you maintain a relationship with your former collaborators?
Are perhaps the experiences related to development or leadership the ones you keep a better memory?
I invite you to experiment the following:
Take two things with you: a paper (a real or a virtual one) and some minutes to think about your first boss…related to a stable job, not just a summer one.
After remembering such person along with the moments, sensations, achievements and failures you both had together, write on the paper 5 descriptions of that first boss. Try to avoid using general adjectives such as “friendly”, “close”, “results oriented”; better use expressions that come out of yourself mixing objectivity and subjectivity like: “my boss asked me things I couldn’t imagine I could ever do” or “the boss was the last one to leave and the boss also sent mails on Sunday nights”.
Afterwards, ask your (ex)collaborators to describe you with 5 concepts that could define you as a Manager (here we add a new element; it is better to ask people with whom you have a truthful relationship because, either fortunately or unfortunately, this element is a key ingredient for both relationships and also this experiment).
You surely imagine how this ends…realising how many of these descriptions from your (ex)collaborators match with the ones you made of your first boss? Exactly, that’s it.
I dare not predict what your result has been, if there’s been more coincidences than differences. However, I do dare to bet that those that your first boss left a mark on you might have found more coincidences than differences, especially if your first boss was excellent.
Weeks before we wrote this article we asked recognised professionals in their speciality about what left a mark on them from their first boss. The majority of the interviewed professionals bore resemblance to characteristics, but specifically to form.
In the first place, with the vast majority of them, we instantly received the answer “No, my boss didn’t influence me at all”.
In the second place, when we asked for more information, these professionals gave it with glittering eyes, as if they remembered those times longingly.
In the third place, through their answers, we thought some things they said had been incorporated in their modus operandi.
We usually meet this first boss in a really uncertain moment of our professional life: professional immaturity. We expect and, at the same time, we are willing to become in one of these recognised professionals of our sector who we saw in the university, on the street or in the media.
We have a great album of experiences of those times, right? They were stored in our memory, in which they were put through the emotion they made us live. The cocktail of youth, innocence, need for recognition and, why not, being so close to Academic life tends to cause a tremendous euphoria when is drunk in successful situations. The outcome of this very same cocktail can be of serious frustration at the end of a failure. Do you remember any other professional stage more passionate than that period?
This brings the reflection that the first boss influenced us regarding technical aspects, but regarding emotions…emotions, in the end, did not have any boss.
From then on, we will have matured and, as a result, learnt everything is relative. Because of this, failures become little disappointments and successes become what is expected from you, since you know what to do with your job.
At this point, questions that stem from the experiment come up, and we hope you might want to solve them.
Might it be true that little by little we emulate best practices as well as worst ones with less awareness than we would like?
How are we helping our youngest collaborators live these emotions in their first professional steps?
And finally, do first bosses become last bosses, at some point?