We all know “good boss energy” when we see it.
Maybe it’s the boss who begins each 1:1 by checking-in with you and ensuring you don’t feel too overwhelmed or stressed.
Or, perhaps it’s the boss who goes out of her way to find new growth opportunities for you, and is always your biggest champion.
If you’re a leader, it’s critical you demonstrate qualities related to good boss energy. But those qualities can be difficult to pin down — which is why I spoke with nine HubSpot leaders who were nominated by their direct reports as leaders with good boss energy.
Here, we’ll dive into how those leaders believe they foster good boss energy in their roles — and how you can, too.
Before we dive into HubSpot leaders’ tips for embodying good boss energy … Let’s cover what it is.
The term was started by HubSpot’s Social team as an opportunity to introduce positivity when it comes to discussing corporate culture on social media.
To launch the campaign, HubSpot’s Social team leveraged creators of all sizes — including TikTok superstars Rod and Natalie — to fill the For You Page with inspiring and educational #GoodBossEnergy videos.
As Green puts it, “By creating our very own Good Boss Energy ambassadors, we filled #CorporateTok with much-needed positivity, established HubSpot as our audience’s growth soulmate, and demonstrated how growing better can start with you. The water cooler really is half full when you have Good Boss Energy around!”
Next, let’s dive into how you can display Good Boss Energy — including both authenticity and HEART — in the workplace.
Admittedly, this made her question whether she was, in fact, giving off “good boss energy”. If she was, why would those employees leave?
“I was tempted to berate myself and ask, ‘What did I do wrong? Why are they leaving me? Was I such a bad manager?'” Gooding told me.
However, she realized her direct reports weren’t leaving her … They were leaving their jobs. As she puts it, “Sometimes, circumstances happen and life has a different calling for you. And it’s okay to answer that call. That is growth and progress — learning to move out of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable again.”
She adds, “Both individuals were very smart and good at what they did, and I believe my role was to help them work on other aspects of themselves that would empower them to become risk-takers.”
Good boss energy means helping your employees learn and grow. It’s vital as a leader you look for ways to develop each employee’s strengths — and if, in the end, those strengths take them in new career directions, that’s okay, too.
Gooding says, “In the end I consider my ‘good boss energy’ to be really a translation of ‘good PEOPLE energy’. We need to remember that whether you are a boss or individual contributor, our purpose should be to leave everyone we come into contact with better off than when we met them.”
He told me, “I pride myself on this. My mother is a clinical social worker and she taught me how to listen to people and truly understand how they see the world. While many leaders have skills and experience to direct the team, the best leaders listen first.”
He adds, “You’ll want to meet with team members 1:1 and ask thoughtful questions. Get to know them as a person, and try to understand their pain points and motivations. Be an active listener and ask follow-up questions. You’ll also want to help your team members see the wider context by connecting the dots for them — It will help them understand how they contribute to the larger goal. Once you have this skill, you will notice that your team members trust you more.”
Listening is ultimately a vital skill for building any good workplace relationship. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve felt our managers aren’t truly listening, and it can come across like they don’t care about our progress, our challenges, or even us as people.
Rosenblit adds, “I also find it valuable to be vulnerable and acknowledge what body language you’re observing or if you’re picking up on things not being said as a way of opening the door for team members to be more open with their reservations.”
As he puts it, “We’re naturally social and empathetic creatures and that must translate to the workplace … it’s probably one of the most important environments to actually ‘be human’, considering we spend most of our lives in this space and with other people.”
He continues, “As a leader, I try to just be human — which means meeting people where they are, considering an issue from their perspective, taking a genuine interest in them, and understanding their ambitions, goals, and even what causes them anxiety or stress. Empathy is something you can’t fake. If you want to give off good boss energy, you need to look in the mirror every morning and ask yourself, ‘Do I care about my team because I have to, or because I want to?’ The correct answer is because you want to — with that mindset, you can build truly outstanding teams.”
It’s a misconception that strong leaders shouldn’t be too compassionate towards their employees for fear of being seen as ‘weak’. Instead, empathy and compassion can help your team members feel valued, which is vital for ensuring they perform to the best of their abilities.
Humility is a core principle of good leadership. Humility leads to a more authentic leadership style, which can help your direct reports connect with you and trust you more.
He continues, “Trying to be mindful of where people are coming from during any given engagement is crucial — maybe they had a tough day and aren’t ready to hear any feedback today, maybe they really need to just vent about stuff not even related to work. Or maybe they need a deep dive on a problem they’ve been trying to solve for weeks and you need to sideline less urgent items.”
To demonstrate humility as a leader, you might:
Dugal adds, “If you operate under the assumption that you won’t always, or even often, get everything right, that’s going to support a professional environment built on trust that gets as much as possible right, as often as possible.”
Dugal says, “The biggest yardstick I measure myself against is how my direct reports are developing. Are they overcoming obstacles, taking on new challenges, and growing in places that are going to help them reach achievements that motivate them on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. How am I keeping those lines on my deliverables to the organization at large? If all of that is reconciled, everything falls into place for everyone.”
She continues, “How do I go about matching team member potential to opportunity? I keep a very short list of skills and ambitions of my direct reports and even their direct reports. That way, when I hear of an opportunity, I can do the matching in my head. The key to this is to match someone to something that is novel but still leans into their skillset. Then, when you hand it to them, express your confidence in their abilities and why this is an opportunity for them. After that, continue to offer support. As one mentor told me ‘get good at delegating and not abdicating responsibility’.”
In other words: Looking out for new opportunities for your employees to grow isn’t the same as handing them tasks from your to-do list that you don’t want to do. It’s about being thoughtful and intentional about identifying their areas for improvement, and then finding projects that help them flex that muscle.
He says, “Don’t we all have imposter syndrome from time-to-time? I’m at my best when I’m just being myself, not overthinking or ‘acting’ like a leader. In that sense, authenticity is key. I think that people appreciate that realness, positivity, and reliability. Over time, this leads to trust and psychological safety as relationships grow.”
Weston adds, “My team knows that I’m always available to work through hard problems together, and willing to get my hands dirty. Even when work gets busy, I make room for async catch ups, quick Zoom calls, or a whiteboard session. This also helps me to stay plugged in and shows through actions how important the work actually is. The truth is that building great relationships takes time and a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work. Throughout it all, it’s important to lead with humility, clear expectations, and positive ‘we’ve got this’ energy.”
Kyle Denhoff told me that one of the most important components of a strong leader is someone who can be direct with his or her team.
He told me, “Whether it is positive or constructive feedback, it’s always best to be direct. Give people feedback in the moment. Help them understand the ‘why’ behind the feedback. If you would like to see a change in behavior or output, coach them by setting clear expectations.”
He adds, “Everyone wants to succeed and they appreciate when you help them move forward. I personally like to coach people by showing them ‘what good looks like’ — provide them with an industry example or show them something you have done in the past. Side-by-side is best.”
Being direct and offering constructive feedback can feel challenging, but it’s one of the most important traits of a strong leader and will ultimately help your team members continue to feel engaged and challenged in the workplace.
At the beginning of each 1:1, my manager starts with, “So, how are you feeling this week?”
I love this question. My answer — whether it be stressed, productive, overwhelmed, or excited — can help inform my manager on what I need from her, and can give some context on how best to coach me.
As she puts it, “Being a ‘good boss’ has never been my goal. Instead, it results from a lot of self-work and my daily practice of giving myself grace. In battling my own perfectionism, I’ve heightened my self-awareness around my own humanness. I am allowed to my mistakes. Bad days are never ideal, but everyone has them. Learning curves are exciting because you’re developing new skills, but inevitably you will fail along the way.”
She adds, “The best thing I can do for my team is to be transparent and afford them the grace that I give to myself. My gut feeling is that if you ask your team to do their best, but provide a safe environment for people to be human, you will end up with a high-performing team. So far it’s worked for me.”
For Joseph, this includes starting each of her weekly team meetings with “Red light, green light,” as a wellness check. Green light means you’re doing great, feeling motivated, and ready to tackle the week. Yellow light means you’re close to bandwidth or you need additional support. Red light means for whatever reason (no need to disclose), you can’t do your full workload that week.
Joseph says, “When a team member calls a red light, the rest of the team splits up their work. We very rarely have red lights, but it’s important to me that I afford my team the opportunity to be transparent and authentic. We’re just human.”
When I was collecting submissions on which HubSpot leaders’ exemplify “good boss energy”, I also got some fantastic responses from HubSpotters on why their manager had good boss energy.
“Amanda Volk is my manager and she is amazing! She has super good boss energy. Examples of her awesome boss energy:
Ultimately, giving off good boss energy takes time, effort, and intentionality to do effectively, but it pays off by inspiring your team to take bigger risks, encouraging them to be more engaged and excited about the work at-hand, and letting them know they can feel comfortable being honest with you when mistakes arise.