7 Signs You're Boss Material

7 Ways to Tell You'd Make a Great Boss or Manager

We’ve all heard someone allude to a person being “boss material,” whether the speaker was talking about us (fingers crossed) or someone else.

But what, really, does being boss material mean? And how does someone determine who would make a good boss, and who wouldn’t? Here are a few key signs that you (or someone you’re interviewing) may be boss material:

YOU EMBODY STRONG LEADERSHIP TRAITS (EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT LEADING)

Leadership (true, effective leadership) is really a simple combination of honestly communicating, delegating, and committing to the task at hand. When you’re honest with your crew by communicating where you are in contrast to where your goal is, you may discover that their commitment to that goal (and secondarily to you) actually increases.

Delegation is equally essential to both playing on your team members’ strengths and the work all getting done: not everyone is an excellent organizer, but some area. Not everyone is a great writer, but some are. Capitalize on strengths, and you’ll also have a happier, more fulfilled team.

Most of all though, leaders demonstrate commitment. Feel like giving up in the face of a difficult situation doesn’t mean you’re not boss material. Difficult situations can be daunting and acknowledging problems takes us back to the importance of honest communication. But when you show your commitment to staying the course, even in the face of adversity, your team will rally with you.

YOU’VE GOT THE ABILITY TO INFLUENCE

You’re probably thinking: Well thanks, Nicole. I’ll just get right on that, influencing everyone. But really—how does anyone make herself influential?

Well, it’s actually kind of simple. Influence is a combination of confidence, inspiration, and positivity. The key is shifting your perspective.

When you’re faced with a problem, believe you can come up with a solution. Come at it with a mind that’s open to both proven methods of solution and new and innovative ways of seeing the problem. Sometimes you won’t need to reinvent the wheel. Other times, you just might. And sometimes? It’s a complicated combination of the two. Stay positive in the face of adversity, but make sure you’re being genuine: it’s okay to say “I don’t have a solution yet,” just pair it with “—but I’m pursuing these several avenues for a solution, and this one in particular looks promising.” Over time, your influence will grow.

Contrary to stereotypes, influence isn’t about opulence or power. Really, it just means that you’ve got a proven track record of solving problems, coming up with creative and very effective solutions, and an understanding from people who have worked with you before that you can succeed in varied and complex problematic environments. If you’re dedicated to building the reputation of your work, you’re on track to being influential.

AND NO CONCEPT OF “THAT’S NOT MY JOB”

You probably have a job description (even if it’s vague), and it probably has fairly defined limits to what “your” responsibilities include. When you spot tasks that still need to be done, that are either unassigned or assigned to someone with a heavy workload, take note of them. The moment you have reasonable free time, offer to take a couple of tasks off of someone else’s plate.

Frame it carefully so they know it stems from a willingness to help and extra time on your hands—not you questioning their own abilities to get it done. This behavior puts you in a position of strength because you are willing to help coworkers, you’re working toward the common goal, you’ve been efficient in completing your own task list, and you’re demonstrating interest outside of your personal assignments.

If you’re dedicated to building the reputation of your work, you’re on track to being influential.

YOU TRY HARD TO MAINTAIN YOUR COMPOSURE

Want to become a great boss? Then your ego has no place here. It can be difficult to untangle where ego stops and useable energy starts, but it’s possible. When things go wrong, don’t freak out. Focus on solutions. If someone’s words hurt your feelings, take the time to compose a constructive response, and address that person privately about the issue. If things are falling apart, be the person who acknowledges their potential role in the problem, and then focus on solutions. Don’t waste time browbeating anyone, including yourself.

YOU’RE THE PERSON WHO HAS ANSWERS

This really means: be knowledgeable about your product. Understand how your business works, what your and other peoples’ responsibilities are. Remember where to find helpful information. When someone asks a question, don’t be afraid to pipe up with the answer if you know it. If you know a potential solution, specify that. You don’t have to be a know-it-all to be integrally important to your team.

YOU KEEP YOUR WORD

If you commit to doing something, do it. Don’t over-promise your time, your commitment, or what you can get done. It’ll go a long way. 

MOSTLY, YOU’RE (CONFIDENTLY) PATIENT

You might know that you're boss material before your employers and coworkers do. It's okay to just sit on that knowledge a while, and let others catch up to the fact. You may find that in the interim, you get a whole lot better at estimating time or navigating stressful or non-ideal circumstances, and when your team catches up to the realization, you'll be able to exceed expectations as a true leader.

What are some other signs of a good boss?