Bosses often get a bad rap, you may have endured a “Devil Wears Prada” type of thing, but that’s all the more reason to appreciate fantastic bosses.
According to recent data from Slot Tracker, New York is one of the top 10 states where people love their bosses the most, mainly due to good communication.
“Amazing bosses listen, welcome feedback, ask others for their opinion, and respect different points of view,” said Kirstin Ferguson, Ph.D. and author of “Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership” (Berrett-Koehler). “These are bosses who give you opportunities you didn’t even know you were ready for and they see potential in you before you do.”
Here are some fantastic bosses and their direct reports who rave about them.
From boss to best friend
Upper East Sider Shurabhi Das, 32, is a senior manager at IvyWise, an education consultancy in Midtown.
She credits COO Merrily Bodell, 55, for supporting her professionally and personally over the past 10 years.
“Trust, respect and care have only deepened and grown over the years,” Das said. There is no one I trust more than Merrily. By completing forms, I am listing Merrily as my emergency contact.”
“We joke that we also call each other mother-in-law and daughter-in-law,” said Bodell, who recently tapped Das for his new research role after acknowledging Das’s interest in the data.
Das started as a project coordinator at IvyWise in 2013, leaving two years later to pursue a postgraduate degree in London.
Das kept in touch with her boss and returned to the company in 2017 as a social media manager.
Her employer sponsored her US work permit and green card, which she obtained last year and for which she is “forever grateful.”
Bodell thrives on guiding and managing people. “I love business and financial management, but what melts my butter is working with people,” she said. “I feel like my mothering and management skills are related and important. I think that adds to my experience. I feel like they are my children in a way. I definitely feel very proud to help people and Shurabhi specifically.”
In addition to recognizing talent, the chief operating officer fosters team camaraderie by hosting Boat Day, an annual company-wide outing at her Westport, Connecticut home that includes boating, swimming and, last year, a taco truck in his backyard.
The back-to-office party in April 2022 included manicures, massages, lunch, and a special surprise.
“I got the North Shore Animal League to come up with a bunch of puppies, because who doesn’t love puppies?” she said. “Secretly, I felt that Shurabhi needed a puppy.” (His plan of hers worked, as Das adopted a cub she named Mowgli.)
Das said she learned from Bodell how to become a better leader and that loyalty to her boss and the company runs deep.
“It’s been more than 10 years, so I think it’s a good indication that I will have to be expelled against my will,” she said.
intuition and encouragement
Matt Cermack, 33, a talent manager at Atrium, a Nomad-based workforce management firm, was anxious.
He had just endured an awkward phone conversation telling a candidate that he didn’t get a job.
“Jenna Gaston, our caring and compassionate manager, somehow witnessed my distress and immediately offered her support,” Cermack said. “I didn’t have to ask. She knew.”
Gaston, 35, a senior division director, assured Cermack that he had handled the situation appropriately.
As her team headed to dinner, she stayed behind while Cermack collected himself.
“She has Spidey’s senses tingling,” said Cermack, who also learned how to support and guide others through Gaston’s examples. “Like, eye contact ‘I got you’ unspoken support.”
Cermack said Gaston “goes above and beyond to be there” in his personal activities as well.
When he ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon in a torrential downpour, Gaston, then pregnant, stood at the mile marker 1 in her raincoat, cheering him on.
“It was amazing! Seeing her go the extra mile, being there for me in my personal life was great, really the best surprise.”
Gaston credits learning empathy from his parents, along with work experience and leadership training from Atrium.
“Learning from so many different leaders in life and having great mentors has really shaped me,” she said.
given a voice
“I have the best boss ever,” said Deb Petrara, 59, of Oyster Bay, LI.
The senior manager at ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm, credits her boss Jay Scheer, 39, a chief marketing officer, for supporting her.
Petrara says that he demonstrates a unique leadership style by giving information that is more of a suggestion than a direction.
“He never overturned or derailed my input or decisions. He has a gift for letting us run,” Petrara said. “It is very difficult, especially for women and older women, to be loud and proud of their ideas or their concerns.”
Thanks to Scheer, she feels empowered.
“Having that support where I can speak is huge,” he said. “It has made me a better thinker and a better strategist and writer. I’m not afraid to take risks,” Petrara said.
Scheer called the eulogy “incredibly sobering. I’ve had some great bosses and not so great bosses. I think the big difference on that spectrum is trust. Giving your employees the confidence to do their job, what they were hired to do and take ownership of their work, giving them the space to succeed and also try new things, maybe experiment a little, get out of their comfort zone. I think that builds trust in the employee and also buy-in for the organization and where it’s headed.”
The six-member department works remotely, meeting nearly twice a week.
There is also the “marketing trust tree” group chat.
Whether you’re sharing a joke, a tech problem, or something else, it’s like being in a room with closed doors.
“It’s our water cooler,” Petrara said. “There is no wrong answer. It is a safe space. There are no repercussions because he set it up that way. Jay allows us to be vocal.”