How to have a great inner boss

Do you want to have a great boss without having to change company or team?

In this post I will talk about how you can change the only boss that you have 100% control over, and that is, your inner boss.

With this process you can enjoy the benefits of great leadership no matter what your external circumstances currently are.

Curious? Find a pen and paper, and keep reading.

(The whole process may take some time, so feel free to break it down into smaller bits.)

Step 1: Define great leadership

The first step is to think about what great leadership means for you.

Your own definition of it.

Write down your answers to the following questions:

🔹What do you expect from a great boss?

🔹What qualities and values do they embody? For example, are they fair, transparent, supportive?

🔹And what does that look like in practice?

🔹Are they setting realistic expectations as well as stretch goals, to allow you to grow in a sustainable way?

🔹Do they set you up to succeed with clear expectations, the necessary resources and by having your back?

🔹Do they give you opportunities to shine, and advocate for you with the higher ups?

🔹What vibe and culture do they foster in the team?

🔹How do they handle conflict?

Now that you have a concrete and practical list of what you expect from a great boss, imagine what it would be like to have one.

Write down the answers to these questions:

🔸How would you feel if you had a great boss?

🔸How would you to show up to work?

🔸How would it change your outlook in challenging situations?

🔸How would your performance and wellbeing change?

In Step 2, you will take stock of your current inner team and inner leadership.

Step 2: Take stock

In Step 1 you defined what a great boss looks like for you and you connected to the vision of how life would be if that was reality.

Now it’s time for Step 2: audit what the current reality is for your inner team.

Time to write again!

First, identify and list all the roles you play in your life.

For example: parent, partner, employee, friend, family member etc.

And then add your Body to the list, which can include your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

All these parts of you need resources, time and attention. And they likely all feel under pressure to meet expectations.

Now imagine these roles being different members of your inner team, and you being their leader.

🔹 What kind of boss are you?

🔹 Are you only pointing out what is missing, constantly pushing and criticizing?

🔹 Are you submitting the team members to a constant performance review where they inevitably fall short?

🔹 Are you promoting competition rather than collaboration between the parts?

🔹 Are you tolerating bullying?

This part can be uncomfortable but keep going.

🔹 How do your inner team members feel about your leadership?

🔹 Are some parts of you feeling resentful or frustrated? Not appreciated or rewarded for their contribution?

Go through each one of the roles and write down what comes up.

Now that you have a real time picture of what your inner team feels like, you are ready to decide what needs to change to become a great leader for your inner team with Step 3 and 4.

Step 3: Clean up your expectations

For each role, list all of the expectations that you have of them.

For example, as a mother I might expect myself to be present for my children, to not lose my patience, to provide for their health and wellbeing etc.

Now go back to the list of expectations and clean them up. Your job as a leader is to protect your team from the noise of unquestioned expectations, so that they can focus on what is really important.

To do it, run the list through the “should” test.

Do these expectations sound like “I want” or “I should”?

When it sounds like “should”, ask yourself: Why? Says who? Where does that belief come from? Is this expectation a net positive in my life? Am I willing to put resources toward meeting this expectations at the expense of something else?

Do this for each one of the roles.

Don’t forget your body. Do you expect it to always function well, be energetic and strong? To maintain a certain weight? To exercise x number of time per week? Write it all down and run it thought the “should” test.

Great work!

Now you have clear expectations and the next step is to provide all team members with the resources to succeed.

Step 4: Provide support and resources

This step is about  asking each one of your inner team members what resources and support they need in order to meet those expectations.

🔸Do they need time and attention?

🔸Do they need you to invest in their training so they are better prepared to face the next challenge?

🔸Do they need you to call in external support?

🔸Do they need appreciation?

🔸Do they need you to advocate for them so they can grow?

🔸Anything else?

Once you have your list, be the boss who follows through. Provide your team with the resources they need. Hire the extra help if needed. Reorganise priorities based on your intentional expectations. Call in the external support where needed.

That is how you set your team up for success, earn their trust, and make it much more likely they will meet your expectations.

Step 5: Consolidate and embody

Give the team time to trust you and know that the change is for good. Feel into the vibe of the team and provide any extra support needed. Notice the temptation to criticise and shift your focus to provide support and resources.

Go back to your definition of great boss from Step 1, and find out in what way you are now embodying the values that matter to you.

Next, you will take this work from your inner team to influence your external world.

Step 6: Influence your circumstances

Once you have consolidated your inner leader and you feel like you have a strong team to back you up, it is time to reflect back to your external circumstances with a fresh perspective.

🔸 What can you see more clearly?

🔸 How might you better communicate your needs to those around you?

🔸 How can you get resourceful about calling in the support you need in order to meet your own definition of success?

🔸 How else can you influence the world around you?

I hope you enjoyed the process of meeting and developing your inner boss!

To conclude, go back to Step 1, and read your list of benefits of having a great boss. Have you already started to enjoy these benefits?

I personally repeat a lighter version of this exercise on a regular basis. If you practice it consistently, it will pay off!