Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Leadership Development: 6 Steps to Becoming a Superboss

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 2, 2018 3:42:18 PM / by Anna Montgomery, MPA


It’s easy for professionals to get bogged down in the day-to-day minutia of providing emergency services, running nonprofit organizations, law enforcement departments, and businesses. So how do you maximize your time to drive change?

Leaders will typically spend 70% of their time on routine, sometimes inconsequential matters and 30% on important initiatives. Proficient leaders optimize their 30% while incredible leaders realize immense gains by focusing some of that 30% on their employees. 

Sydney Finklestein’s research on superbosses, icons of success in their respective industries, revealed several character traits and most importantly, their unique abilities to hire and develop talent. Finklestein recently outlined key takeaways from his research in a Harvard Business Review article. Employ a tactic from this legendary leader playbook and move beyond being a superstar to become a superboss.

1. Hire the best people

Finklestein identified the best people as intelligent, creative, and flexible. With these three traits the sky’s the limit on their achievements.

2. Consider more than credentials

It’s quite possible that the best people will not come in your preconceived packages of experience or education. Superbosses look deeper than typical hiring managers to find employees with real potential. The right leadership development program, be it an internal "executive training program" or from a 3rd party program, will harness their potential and unleash a confident and relatable superboss.


Download the EML Brochure


3. Create a steep learning curve.

Ambitious, motivated employees can do a lot more than they’re typically expected to do in regular positions. A continuous challenge will push people to dig deep and reach high.

4. Set extraordinarily high expectations.

In addition to setting high expectations, give feedback and rewards along the way. Imagine together what can be achieved and don’t limit yourself or your employees in what you expect them to accomplish.

5. Nurture their skills

Develop employee's skills through your expectations, but don’t limit their innate drive and talents. Nurture the unusual or exemplary skills that each employee brings to their work.

6. Be confident in your ability

Be confident in your ability to hire and develop excellent people who will soar beyond even your high expectations. This type of mentoring, development, and commitment to your employees will require you to be authentic and imaginative.

Authentic superbosses connect deeply with employees and maintain relationships with mentees long after working together. Imagination is the spark that helps you see the potential in each employee and bring out their best.


Topics: Leadership Development

Anna Montgomery, MPA

Written by Anna Montgomery, MPA

Anna Montgomery earned her MPA at USC Price and is pursuing her EdD at USC Rossier.

Leave a Comment