The Almost Perfect Leader

Tuesday will come with many mixed emotions.

My boss, Rose, is retiring after 33 years as a public employee.

I’ve worked with her for 16 of those years, through many changes in our work and personal lives.

I’m happy for her, but sad for myself…for the loss of someone who inspired me in so many ways.

She is the Almost Perfect Leader.

“Be a leader with a ladder, not a boss with an order.” 

― Debasish Mridha

My boss is the Ladder Queen.

I’m still in the denial stage. This seems surreal, as if it’s not really happening. I want to go into her office and talk to her, stare at her, tell her how I feel about her. Unfortunately, I’m a chicken and I had to write her a letter, which will be placed in her hands as we part on Tuesday. I’m unable to confront those emotions face-to-face with my leader boss. (I may feel different, in December, when I’ve had one or three drinks at her retirement party.)

I first met Rose around 1996 or 1997 when she came to meet with my then boss. I really only remember being introduced to this very nice blonde lady and that was about it. Then, in 2000, Rose came to interview for an Assistant Regional Chief position in our division…with one black shoe and one navy blue shoe. She had gotten up in the dark, not turning on the light due to a sleeping husband, fumbling around in the closet for a dark pair of shoes. It wasn’t until it was too late did she notice the error. It didn’t really matter, though, as the Regional Chief made the best decision ever in hiring her. Six years later, when the Regional Chief retired, Rose once again promoted and honed her skills as the Almost Perfect Leader.

My mentality is like a samurai they used to train every day, work on their technique to make themselves better, almost perfect, perfection is impossible but every day you get closer and that’s what I want . Every day I want to get better than I was the day before. 

~Georges St-Pierre~

I did not call Rose “perfect” because she would not apply that to herself. She’s a bit too humble for that kind of ego. In my estimation, though, she is very close, always striving to be a better person and leader.
In my letter to Rose, with a few minor changes and omissions, I wrote:

“You have been a leader to the highest degree. Your knowledge, ethics, morals, calm demeanor, and ability to direct has led our region to be the best it can be. The management team always looks to you for guidance and support because they know you will give it without question. You have always been someone we can lean on as a steady force and a light that shines forward in any situation – through changes in staff, administrators, directives, and new computer programs.

You have always supported me, even in not-so-great times, by reminding me of my faith (who’s really in charge) and showing compassion. Your strong faith in God has been an example to me and others around you. He has led you to be the wonderful person you are today and He has given me the opportunity to know your caring heart.

Thank you for always putting your trust in me, that I could get the job done, when I didn’t always trust myself. Thank you for seeing me through a rough time in my life, when I knew I could count on you for words of wisdom. Thank you for your awesome sense of humor and levity and ability to know when not to take something too seriously. Thank you for your guidance when I was handed a new task or struggling with new directives. Thank you for showing me what it truly means to care about quality of work, but more so to care about the people in and outside the workplace.

I’ve told you that you are the “best boss ever” and I will stand by that forever. You epitomize so many of the excellent qualities one wants in a boss, such as knowing the right words to say and when to say them. With rare exception, I believe past and present employees, in all of your positions, have been thankful for your leadership and friendship…as I have.”

Rose is a leader that inspires others to follow her example.

 leaderAnd she does.

I’m going to miss her practice and the almost perfect leader that is Rose.

MJM Readers, have you ever had or do you have The Almost Perfect Boss? If you said “yes” or are nodding your head, I’d like to hear about him or her and their exceptional qualities.

Note to Twitter and Facebook friends: I will not be sharing this post via any other media simply because Rose is a Facebook friend. I wouldn’t want her to read this before I can hand her the letter on Tuesday. That would be so embarrassing.

28 responses to The Almost Perfect Leader

  1. Awesome. Given the experience of myself and the Husband, you should consider yourself blessed to have had one of the “Almost Perfect Boss”es. I suspect they are thin on the ground. (I hope I’m proved wrong by the ensuing comment stream.)

    It pains me to say this but do you know where I experienced the worst management? When I worked as office secretary for the church to which I belonged. In my experience (and others), churches don’t do HR well. But luckily that behaviour forced me out and now I’m where I think I’m meant to be so I guess it served a purpose. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      It’s difficult for me to fathom that the people who are supposed to be walking closely with Christ are the bad bosses of your world. How does that happen?

      I’ve actually been very blessed as I’ve only had one terrible boss. The others have been pretty darn good and have treated me with respect. I hear stories from neighbors and friends about their bad bosses and I thank the heavens above I didn’t have to endure that very much in my work life.

      I will also be interested to hear the comments of others. I know there are good people and bosses out there.

      • I think part of it was that as a member of the community, some of the other members couldn’t understand why I had to be paid to do the job. Shouldn’t it be part of my ‘service’? Mind you, I was job sharing with someone from outside our church and I’m pretty sure no one would have suggested she didn’t get paid. Another aspect is this feeling that everyone should be getting along so when I was having some trouble with someone, I had no one to go to who would listen. I’ve become a proponent for the theory that the quickest way to ruin your relationship with a community is to work for them. :/

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Wow, that’s pretty messed up. I take it you don’t belong to that church anymore…

  2. Dan Antion says:

    This is such a wonderful tribute, Mary. I currently have the best boss I’ve ever had. He has many of the leadership attributes you describe, and it is such a pleasure to work for him. Prior to working for him, I was working for the worst boss I ever had. Work went from being an ongoing problem to being fun.

    I hope your transition works well. There will never be another Rose, but hopefully, you end up with another wonderful boss.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      That’s awesome, Dan, that you also work for the best.boss.ever. It’s such a joy to work with someone like that as I feel I’ve learned so much that’s good and positive from Rose.

      No, there will never be another Rose. Our current Assistant Chief will probably get the job, but he doesn’t look good in a dress. One strike there… :-p

  3. Joanne Sisco says:

    I believe that what we send out into the world, comes back to us. Rose has sent out generous support and thoughtful leadership to her staff and is receiving back your genuine affection. It seems to me that you both have been big winners because of it.

    I’m confident that your letter will touch her deeply and will occupy a treasured place in her heart.
    The person who follows her will have very large shoes to fill.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m hoping that we all cut some slack to the person who steps into Rose’s shoes and remember that he/she will have to become their own type of awesome leader. Rose is a wonderful soul and that parlayed into a wonderful leader. I wish her the best in retirement, that all the amazing stuff coming back to her fills the next chapter of her life.

  4. A wonderful tribute. Yes, I have had the best boss ever and the worst boss ever, and oddly, both served me well. When I had my own business early on, I’d think about what Arthur Gensler would to as a model of what to do, He was an ethic compass. As a personality dealing with a pack of 20-somethings, he was an amazing fun and stern leader — how he did both? Of course, I’d also think of what Tim Walker worst-boss-ever would do and say, “never ever…”

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You are right, Katie. With a bad boss, you learn “never ever” and know that’s not how you want to treat employees, co-workers or anyone else. I love the term “ethic compass” and that you had someone like Arthur to steer the ship. It makes work fun, doesn’t it?

  5. Trying to figure out how to respond. I feel so WITH you in both your appreciation and your grief but can’t quite get to the Boss part. I have always been my own…hmmm, maybe I need to write myself a retirement letter. wow, what a concept. Thanks.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Hey, I think you should. Write about all of your accomplishments over the years and be proud of them! Then go put on your PJ’s, open a bottle of wine and have an awesome retirement (whenever that is).

  6. You have been lucky to work for Rose. I worked for Bill for several years, and loved being at work. I’m going to hope you find another Rose in your career. I found some almost Bills but never that level again. Hope Rose has a wonderful retirement and imagine the volunteer organizations that will feel like they just lucked out getting to know her. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m hoping my career only lasts another year or two before I can also retire. So, whoever they hire in her place is going to have to put up with me and I’ll have to “train” him or her. 😉

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I say “train” in a smart aleck way. It’s like Radar in MASH training the Colonels…sign here, sign there, etc. In my current position, this is a given…other duties as assigned :-p

  7. Norm 2.0 says:

    A wonderful tribute, I’m sure she will be suitably touched by your words.
    Good leaders cultivate good employees and in the end when it works well, both are lucky to have each other.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      We had our last management meeting today and so many of the managers reiterated what I have written to her. Lots of funny stories, too!

  8. Phil Ryan says:

    My 28 year career ended badly (a breakdown) (mental rather than vehicular) and it would be all too easy to point the finger of blame at a bad boss so I’ll resist the temptation and point, instead, at three of the buggers. They actually conspired to lie to me and, after one slipped up, lie to me some more. Normally I would have been able to laugh their incompetence off but I was under a bit of pressure with a heavy workload that only I, in the branch, could deal with. After several years of flying on the edge (and occasionally over it) I crumpled, horribly. With a decent boss I’d have been fine.
    Your letter is a lovely gesture, Mary but does it go far enough? I may have to write to previous bosses I encountered and thank them for not leaving me with depression, anxiety and sleeping issues.
    Three years on and I’m much improved. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m so sorry you had to suffer at the hands of those three bosses. I had a friend go through a bad time with a former boss and she also had sleeping issues…still does even though life and work has turned around for her. Not to worry about my letter and if it goes far enough. We have a few things planned for tomorrow and for her party next month. I fully intend to hug her again tomorrow, as I did today, and tell her how wonderful she has been to me and everyone else. Can’t say it enough.

  9. M-R says:

    I did have two bosses I loved – and they were both Scotsmen ! I had two others I once loved but in whom my faith dwindled and died …
    But my working life was not comprised of long-term jobs – largely freelance. And there I very rarely worked for people I could admire.
    My luck was to spend much of that working life with a man who occupied it to the exclusion of all else, really, and in whom my faith was never once diminished.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      M-R, that is a lovely homage to your love…to never lose faith in him.

      As for the Scotsmen, did they sound like Sean Connery? I love how Scotsmen talk almost as much as I love how Aussies talk.

      • M-R says:

        ME TOO ! The Scots accent is heavenly, isn’t it ?! No, not like Connery – but then, he’s a one-off. 🙂

  10. joey says:

    Wow. How lucky. I think I envy your incredible luck at working for a great woman for 16 years. I’ve had three wonderful bosses over the years, inspiring true leadership. I’ve had more who were sorta apathetic, just there to get paid, me thinks, or biding their time to the next tier. I’ve had two horrible bosses, good riddance to them.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Yes, I have been very fortunate for 16 years, but you were also fortunate to have the three stellar bosses. The rest of them only served to remind you of how not to lead the troops, although I imagine that was frustrating and annoying.

  11. LB says:

    Rose is so fortunate to have you taken the time to write down your thoughts. Your letter will be cherished, I have no doubt

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