Special Events

What Makes a Good, Bad Boss

I hope you were there, but if you weren't, I hope our wrap coverage of The Special Event — which ran Jan. 15-18 in Atlanta — gives you some idea of all the excitement we enjoyed. The education sessions were enlightening, the exhibits eye-opening and the showcasing events a blast. To catch up on what you missed — or to relive some wonderful moments — turn to the story beginning on page 27.

One of the best parts of The Special Event for me is standing backstage at the Gala Awards ceremony and watching the winners as they make their acceptance speeches. I like all of them — the funny ones, the teary ones and especially the ones from the winners who are truly astonished that they finally snagged a Gala trophy.

What struck me this year was how many Gala winners thanked their bosses.

These grateful winners largely shared the same sentiment: that they were able to produce outstanding work — that's why they were standing there holding a Gala trophy — because their supervisors supported and encouraged them. And I've been thinking ever since about both super-visors I've had and what kind of supervisor I am.

Outside of a couple of doozies (the man who started drinking beer out of his coffee mug at 9 a.m., and the woman who made me punch out on the time clock at the end of my workday, then drive her in my used VW to her “est” seminars), I've had wonderful supervisors. Most work very hard and have a great sense of humor. When I've made mistakes, they've asked for a plan how to avoid the same problem in the future and then never brought the subject up again. They expect good work from me, but it's plain they demand it from themselves.

Being a manager is one of the best experiences of my life. I've been an editor for more years than I'm ever going to admit here, and I am well aware that I have now run out of ideas. (You don't know how many times I've been tempted to run an “Editor's Page” from several years ago because some of the old ones seem better than any ideas I've had lately.) But the people on my staff so often amaze me with either an entirely new topic or a fresh new take on an old one.

Having been both a manager and a subordinate, I know that people do better when they feel they are taken seriously, when they feel safe to float new ideas and when they know they are valued.

That's a recipe for award-winning work.

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