What Makes A ‘Superboss’?

What Makes A ‘Superboss’?

How your boss manages you can have a lasting impact on what kind of worker you become in the future and affect the way you deal with your subordinates if you do end up in a management role. We take a look the qualities that a “superboss” would possess based on the experiences of a software industry veteran.

Superman in disguise image from Shutterstock

A superboss is one that brings success to those who work under them. In a post on LinkedIn Pulse, Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Standford University with a background in software development, shared his experience of working under two very different kinds of superbosses: the “glorious bastard” and the “nurturer”.

During his tenure as a computer programmer at Credit Suisse First Boston in 1987, he and his team built a technology that became the foundation of the company’s information systems. This was done under the management of a tyrannical “glorious bastard”, Khurshed Birdie. This kind of boss is one who values winning at any cost.

Birdie pushed his team to the limit, expected them to forgo time with their families for the sake of their work and had unreasonably high expectations. While Wadhwa admitted to hating his boss at the time, he accepts that Birdie was ultimately a good boss in terms of maximising his team’s potential.

Wadhwa also lauded Birdie for giving him, an unconventional man bursting with crazy ideas at the time, a chance. That is one of the defining traits of a superboss: they will take a chance on unconventional talent, choosing to hire for intelligence and creativity over impressive qualifications.

Wadhwa goes onto describe his “nurturer” superboss, Gene Bedell, who founded Seers Technology, a start-up funded by IBM. This kind of boss prefers to coach, inspire and mentor subordinates.

According to Wadhwa:

He challenged his executives to set ultra-ambitious goals and then find unconventional ways to achieve them. Instead of managing to what was achievable and possible, we shot for the impossible. And then did whatever it took to get there — without worrying about failure or looking back… We took Seer Technologies from zero to $120 million in annual revenue and an IPO in just five years — faster than any other software company of that era, including Microsoft and Oracle.

Needless to say, Wadhwa preferred working under Bedell. Drawing from his two experiences:

A common trait of superbosses is the ability to delegate work and build jobs on the strengths of their subordinates. They trust them to do their jobs and are as supportive as can be. They remain intimately involved in the details of the businesses and build true friendships.

What is a quality your current boss possesses that you value the most? Let us know in the comments.

[Via LinkedIn Pulse]


  • I don’t know if this counts but I once had a divisional manager who name was Michael Bison. His door sign read M Bison. Made me smile every time I walked past it.

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