Skip to main content
Why It's Hard to be a Boss (and even harder to be a good one)

As a child I was a competitive swimmer. I wasn’t a great competitive swimmer, but I was a swimmer nonetheless. I attended practices twice daily and watched my hair turn an unnatural shade of blonde and make crackling noises whenever I touched it thanks to the chlorine.

I have clear memories of my coaches sitting on deck chairs, wearing cozy sweatpants, and sipping hot coffees on early mornings while I jumped into a not-so-warm pool. I remember wanting to one day be a swim coach just for that moment–to spend a morning practice wearing warm clothes and not getting into a pool. [Spoiler Alert: I never did become a swim coach].

At that time I didn’t realize that there was much more to coaching than what I saw at 7 a.m. poolside.

Over the years I’ve heard friends, family members, and co-workers express similar sentiments about their bosses. I’ve heard comments about what they might do if they were the boss, snide remarks about their boss taking time off, and even opinions expressed about their own paycheck vs the type of car that the boss drives.

It’s easy to want to be the one in charge and romanticize about how you would or would not do things. It’s easy to think about a potentially larger salary and how great life would be if only….

Why it is so hard to be a boss

What many people don’t realize is just how HARD it is to be a boss. And, even more than that, how much harder it is to be a good boss. In fact, in a survey done by HR company, BambooHR, almost half the people said the reason they left a job was because of the boss.

In that same survey of 1,000 US-based employees, BambooHR found the following top employee grievances against their bosses:

  1. Taking credit for employee work
  2. Not publicly recognizing accomplishments or contributions
  3. Not caring if employee is overworked
  4. Does not seem to trust or want to empower the employee

Clearly being a boss is a big job and a lot can go wrong with it.

So, why is it so hard to be a boss?

The Responsibility

Any type of management position means that you have some sort of responsibility. You are responsible to make sure that certain work gets done, and if it doesn’t–you are the one that has to answer for it. In fact, the success of an entire department, or even the entire company may rest on your shoulders.

When, in the case of many small businesses, there are not always multi-levels of management, being the owner means being the boss. In this scenario, you are also responsible for the well-being of your employees and families. You need to make sure the company is successful not for its own sake, but also for all of the lives that it is supporting.

This responsibility can be a lot to handle. In fact, it can be crushing. In order to help, try delegating tasks as much as possible and look for a good support system that you can ask for advice from.

Take heart that feeling this sense of responsibility for your employees can also translate to being a good boss. As mentioned above, employees want to feel cared for and respected. Let employees know about your decision making process and take their input in order to make the right choices for the company and its employees.

The Opinions

The opinions of others make being a boss really challenging

Oh, the opinions. Everybody and their cousin think that they can do a better job than the boss. And, unfortunately, many people are not quiet about it either. When you are just starting out, these opinions can be hard to hear, and it is easy to second guess yourself.

However, take them all with a grain of salt. It’s never a bad idea to receive constructive criticism, but also have confidence in what you are doing and don’t let too many of them get to you.

The Isolation

Being the boss can be very lonely. You may not get invited to Taco Tuesday for lunch, and employees may not always stop in your office for a chat on the way to the copy machine. More than that, as a boss, many of the problems you face at work are unique to your position. There’s no one to discuss them with, and it may not even be ethical to discuss them with co-workers and employees.

This is why it is important to have solid relationships outside of your business. If possible, try finding a mentor or friend in a similar position at a different company that you can talk with.

Doing everything else

In most cases, managers, bosses, and business owners don’t get to do the stuff they actually like to do. They are out of the field and back in the office. This can be really disheartening, especially as a business owner.

The bad stuff

There’s no nice way to put it, but there’s some definite bad stuff that comes with being a boss. Remember how as a manager, boss, or business owner you have a lot of responsibilities? Well, sometimes, in order to make sure that the company is operating at the top level, people need to be laid off or fired. It is not easy to do, and the boss has to be the one to do it.

Before firing someone, be confident in your decision and your reasons why. These tips from Forbes can help the process go as smoothly as possible.

If you are in a leadership position in your business, hang in there. It’s a tough job, but it’s a good one. Find as much outside personal, emotional, and business support to help you on those hard days. Looking for more business advice? Contact us at Lumen Advisory and Finance!