How to Be a Boss People Love Working for

Motivating with more than just money

Max Klein


Photo Credit: ASDF_Media on

I remember once in the Marines I was speaking to a man named Joe Dowdy, a “full-bird” Colonel, who was about to lead over 7,000 men and women into battle. This is about as close to having God-like powers as any man can have but he was talking to me like a beloved teacher may speak to one of his favorite students.

I wasn’t his favorite Marine, of course — we all were. This extreme down-to-earth humility made him one of the most well-loved officers in the Marine Corps. A “Marine’s Marine.”

Think of the bosses, teachers, coaches, or leaders you’ve loved the most. What was it about them that made you feel this way?

In most cases, it was how they made you feel. Motivated. Challenged. Listened to. Trusted. A better version of you because of who they are.

I’ve practiced and studied leadership for 25 years in military, corporate, and volunteer settings.

Here some ways to be a boss people love working for — a leader people love to follow.

1. Practice Extreme Humility

Arrogance is the evil twin of confidence. It looks like confidence on the exterior, but on the inside it is filled with insecurity contained by condescension.

Arrogance can sometimes be spawned from competence, but it’s competence with a closed mind so it can’t accept new or better ideas from anywhere including from followers.

Humility is confidence plus vulnerability — it is the quality that allows for the openness needed for personal growth.

Humility also allows a leader to toot the horn of those they lead instead of only their own. It allows your people to shine. Putting that genuine praise on others is a sign of humility and competence. This quality is highly attractive in a leader.

Humility is always a sign of emotional maturity while arrogance is a sign of emotional immaturity. Even if you’re the best, or leading thousands, you can and should still be humble.

“People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.” — Michelle Obama’s ‘New Hampshire’ speech