Qualities of an Ideal Boss

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

This week, I have been thinking a lot about leadership. I have realized that as I’ve gotten older, it is easier for me to be led by people who have personality types that I had found difficult to work with in the past. I think this is because I have thought a lot about the qualities that make a supervisor ideal for me, and I will not work for someone unless they display those qualities. For me, they are:


• Self-aware: I enjoy working for people who are aware of not only their strengths, but the areas in which they need to grow.

• Motivated: I work best under people who are motivated to see a project through to the end.

• Goal oriented: I work really well under people who know what needs to be done and have goals and benchmarks set to get us there.

• Vulnerable: I excel under people who can be vulnerable, and who can allow others to be vulnerable, about their failings, feelings, and frustrations.

• Encouraging: I perform my best under people who are encouraging and supportive.


I encourage you to think about the qualities that make an ideal supervisor for you. In order to make that list, are there some examples you can point to in your life of people who can lead well?

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When Working with Others, Ignore Distracting Chatter But Recognize Initiative

Katie Corbett holds the book "Shoe Dog"

By Katie Corbett


It can be easy for people to give ideas about how to fix or accomplish something, especially if they are not in positions of leadership to make it happen. They might not understand everything it takes to run an organization, project, or event.


Nike founder Phil Knight says in “Shoe Dog” that one of the people he brought on to sell shoes for him wrote with lots of ideas, complaints, and things that weren’t working well. Here are some steps to try if you have such a person in your life.


  • Ask them what they think could be done to fix it.
  • Encourage them to take a leading role in fixing the problem.
  • Give them more responsibility.
  • Ask them what they can commit to in terms of finding solutions.
  • Encourage them to implement those solutions.
  • Ask them to write down all of their ideas and bring them to a brainstorming session.
  • Invite them to a planning meeting.
  • Ask them to list all of the ways they could help.
  • Help them evaluate their ideas based on larger goals.
  • Put them in charge of a project or initiative so they can see what it takes to do the work.


To solve the issue of his prolifically complaining employee, Phil Knight ignored many of his letters, recognized that he had initiative, and kept him busy by putting him in charge of a branch of Nike as soon as he could. This gave the man the ability to make change and solve problems, as well as the understanding of all of the complexities it takes to run a shoe business.


Do you have someone in your life who likes to find solutions to problems? Have you given them autonomy to solve those problems? Let me know how it went in the comments.


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Why you Should Develop a Product you Know Little About

Katie Corbett holds the book, "Start With Why"

By Katie Corbett

Sometimes, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of your job that you forget your purpose. I found this to be true at my first job out of college. I went to work and did the same thing day after day. Part of the reason I hated that job was because I was there to make a paycheck and knew it wouldn’t be a long-term gig. The other reason I hated it was because making a paycheck wasn’t a compelling reason for me to work the job in the first place.

I was so focused on the “how” of my job that I couldn’t keep close to mind the “why” for my being there. Author Simon Sinek points this out as a pitfall and potential reason for failure. When companies—and people—forget their purpose, they start throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. Often, he says, this leads to disaster. Sinek’s book, “Start with Why,” gave me a great idea for defeating that possibility: Be the “why” person; hire the “how” people to work for you. I decided to apply this in my own life by jumping into activities, even when I didn’t know exactly how I would do them.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I thought of an idea for an apparel product. It’s still under development, so I won’t give away too many specifics, but I’ll say that my knowledge of the apparel industry was limited when I started. I knew this product was in line with my “why,” because it would help people overcome a specific challenge and that they could be happier and more fulfilled. I wanted it to be created. I just needed to find the people who had the tools and knowledge to make it happen.

Through networking, recommendations from others, and by accident, I found the people I needed. I’ve brought on board a textiles consultant who is helping me plan and strategize, a seamstress who is assisting me with the design and will create prototypes, a web developer who will be working on my web presence and e-commerce store, and a branding expert who will support me as I market my product.

All the while, I’m able to keep a clear vision of my “why.” I’m excited to learn and to see something that started as an idea in my mind turning into a real product. I’m eager for the journey. And even if this venture doesn’t succeed beyond my wildest dreams, I’ll know why I undertook it and will have learned a lot in the process. To me, that’s worth the risk. Why not think of a way you could try this for yourself?

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