My guess is that when most of us made it to positions of leadership, we made a solemn vow not to be like our old bosses. Similarly, I’d guess we probably also swore we’d never be anything like our parents.

How’s that working out so far?

Like it or not, we tend to repeat behavior we’ve experienced in the past. The key is being aware enough to keep the positive traits and minimize the negative ones.

Leadership affects different people in different ways. Some of us become “Bully Boss” – we take revenge on the past by doing what was done to us; overworking staffers, changing direction without warning, or treating customers as if we’re the only game in town. Some of us become “Doormat Boss”, being super-lenient with staff and customers, keeping unproductive employees or allowing customers limitless revisions on projects. Some of us alternate between the two extremes.

Then there are the bosses we loved, the ones who were fair and fun to work with. The ones that made tough decisions when called for, for the good of the organization, even when it meant some short-term pain. The ones who were as firm with higher-ups and clients as they were with staffers. The ones who tried to do what was right, to make a situation a win-win for everyone involved.

My guess is that the Good Boss wasn’t always that way; he or she may have started out being like one of the other two. But somewhere along the way, they learned that either path was no good for them or the people around them.

For most of human history up until about the 1960s, the CEO was King. He told his employees what to do, and they did it. He told his customers what to buy and when, and they did it. Disobedience meant swift punishment. Employees and customers were powerless.

Again, I ask – how’s that working for you these days?

The  most profitable and productive firms today are the ones who treat their internal customers (i.e., staff) and external customers with respect. By the same token, there is a culture of mutual accountability which doesn’t just happen by accident.  It is applied fairly, regardless of friendships and family relationships.

Now doesn’t that sound like the kind of organization you want to be a part of, one in which everyone feels valuable?

This is not a passing management fad – this is the way business will be done from now on. What are you doing to shape your environment for yourself and your people?