6 Things Your Boss Counts On

Pretty much everyone has a boss. If you are fortunate, you work for someone who cares about you and makes a contribution to your life above and beyond a paycheck.

I’ve been blessed to have always had a “boss” like that for the past 35 years. One who listens and prays, gives ideas, offers grace, speaks the truth as needed, and provides great leadership development. I’m grateful for both John Maxwell and Kevin Myers.

We are quick to know what we want in a boss. We hope we can count on them for the important things.

But can they count on us for the important things too?


At the core, they depend on us for the essentials such as being trustworthy, good character, disciplined and humble. We shouldn’t take these for granted and hope they are non-negotiables in our leadership.

I’d like to focus on a list of six things that I hear bosses talk about from churches of all sizes across the country. These are the things they want to count on you for. These things make you stand out as a “go to” team player.

1) Assume ownership, take responsibility.

I stopped into a little vintage guitar shop in Southern California, only to be greeted by two young guys with a cheery: “Sorry, we’re closing”.

Me: “But the sign says you close at 5:00PM. Its only 4:45PM and I just want to pick up a set of strings.

Two guys: “Yeah, but we’ve already closed the cash register and we’re going to leave.

I guarantee you these two guys were not the owners. The owner would have opened the cash register and made the sale! And probably showed me a couple of really cool guitars!

Owners take responsibility and lead and serve with passion. Owners, do things like making one more phone call, finishing the project, and answering that teammate’s question who’s been waiting all day before they head home.

2) Lead yourself first.

Successful self-leadership begins with self-awareness. Knowing who you are, what you are good at, leading from a place of security, and discipline to do the next right thing is the foundation of self-leadership.

Self-leadership is a vast subject, but one important facet is understanding your emotions and their impact on your leadership. For example, you lead in proportion to your faith, and you control in proportion to your fear. When you are angry, you surrender influence. When you lose control of your emotions, you have quit leading. If someone can push your buttons, they can steal your leadership. People like to watch an explosion, but they don’t like to be near one. Ask God to help you lead through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), as a lifelong practice.

The stronger you become at self-leadership, the more likely you are to learn, grow and get better at what you do. Your boss is counting on you for that.

3) Absorb pressure.

A mark of maturity, experience, and responsibility is your ability to absorb pressure. It might be a tough decision, or saying no, or solving a relationally charged problem. It’s natural to want to toss pressure, like a hot potato, to the nearest capable person, but your boss needs you to handle as much as you can.

Of course, your boss is there for you when you need him or her, but when you handle the pressure yourself, they are freed up to carry their pressures well for the organization.

4) Show up prepared and take initiative.

It’s never a good idea to just wing it. No one wins if you do that. When you show up at a meeting, rather than taking a passive role and observe what happens, spend a few minutes thinking about the agenda and show up with a few thoughts in mind. Jump in!

Whatever your responsibilities each day may be, show up prepared to the best of your ability. This proactive rather than reactive position allows you to take greater initiative, and it frees your mind for more creative thinking and effective problem solving.

5) Get along with others.

Whenever two or more people are working together, there will be conflict. Your ability to quickly resolve that conflict significantly increases your value on the team. Teamwork requires that the leaders not only get along but appreciate each other’s strengths and enjoy working together. A great sign of second-mile teamwork is when you still work hard even when you don’t get what you want!

6) Make things better.

This is the bottom line, isn’t it? How are things better because you are on the team? At 12Stone Church we often say, “Don’t just make something different, make it better.” Improvement and innovation must continually be sought after. You never arrive, it’s always a work in progress.

Put your whole heart into it, your boss is counting on you.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

6 thoughts on “6 Things Your Boss Counts On”

  1. I’ve heard it said “Your job is to make your boss look good,” and that’s what I always try to do! My goal is for my boss to be extremely grateful I’m on his/her team and entrust me to keep up with opportunities to grow as he/she grows. In every major work decision, I think about how it will reflect on my bosses leadership.

  2. Hi Dan,

    Great article but all of your writings are great. I am writing because the items you address could be used as the criteria in any walk of life.

    1. As with your item1) Assume ownership, take responsibility, Customer Service in the U.S. has deteriorated to the point of being nonexistant. Businesses need a resurgence of good leadership and direction and to empower workers to perform to exceed customers expectations.

    2. In the Navy as with your item 6) Make things better, we had a program entitled “Reliability Centered Maintenace” which was used to determine procedures to enhance equipment performance.

    My Items 1. And 2. above are a couple of examples of the items that you cover in your article. Every
    business or company could benefit by having a placard requiring workers to establish and understand the items.

    Again, Dan it was a great article and should get universal distribution to provide guidance for all concerned to improve relation between workers, managers and those of us with whom they deal.

    Love, Pop

    1. Thanks Pop! That means much coming from you. Your thoughts and comments on #’s 1 and 2 are great! I remember how much you helped and taught the young guys at Sears in tire shop. I also remember how you cared about them and helped them personally… that’s the sign of a great boss! I’m sure you taught many young guys well in both your Navy careers too! We could use you back in the work force!!!

  3. Great article, Dan. Seriously–this will be very helpful to many! I don’t know if you have had a chance to read Bob Kaplan’s (Harvard Business School) new book: “What It Really Takes to Lead: The power of thinking and acting like an owner.” It’s easy to read and digest, and might be a good resource to recommend to others.

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