486: Supervising

A Thousand Things to Talk About
486: Supervising

Have you ever supervised employees? What kind of supervisor do you try to be?

Full episode script

I think there are as many types of supervisor / boss typing systems as there are personality typing systems. There’s “six types of supervisors” and “the five types of bosses you never want to work for” and “the twelve major styles of bosses you might run across in your professional career” and… the list goes on and on. Time Magazine even wrote an article highlighting the five types of bosses you never want to work for:

  • The Crooked Politican
  • The Bully
  • The Micromanager
  • The Workaholic
  • And The BFF.

Given this particular perception of leadership, it’s not surprising that in 2014, a Career Builder survey found that most people had no aspirations to leadership at all. Quoting from Harvard Business Review’s analysis of this survey:

“Of the thousands surveyed, only about one-third of workers said they aspire to leadership positions – and just 7% strive for C-level management (the rest said they aspire to middle-management or department-head roles). Broken down further, the results show that more men (40%) hope to have a leadership role than women (29%), and that African Americans (39%) and LGBT workers (44%) are more likely to want to climb the corporate ladder than the national average.”


As far as what kind of supervisor people hope to be – well, that depends first on if you want to be a supervisor at all. And we all have different people we look up to. In reading about management and leadership, I found Ariel Meadow Stallings’ take on things to be rather heartening. Written in an article about the departure of her first employee, she said:

“But managing people has taught me so much about how we humans can benefit from positive encouragement, mentoring, cajoling, loving prods, healthy boundaries. Through managing Megan, I learned so much about my own limitations and capacities… if no one told me that people managing was like parenting, no one else told me that both people managing and parenting are all about flying blind and hoping you don’t crash the plane. Both are about being taught by the people you’re supposedly teaching.”

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.