There’s nothing like that feeling of landing a great job. You love the organization’s mission, vision and values, the location is great, the work is challenging and exciting and if you’re lucky you may even know one or two great people who already work there or you soon learn that you have fantastic co-workers. What a score!

Sometimes, however, once we start working, we realize that our supervisor is not the ideal person for us to be working with. Their leadership qualities, modes of managing, values and priorities clash with our own. In extreme circumstances these conflicts can make a great job not worth the sacrifice, and in the best case, it can be a great disappointment in an otherwise great role. Either way it’s very stressful, frustrating and can make us feel quite powerless.

If only there were a way to suss out our leader BEFORE we accept the position…

Good news!

There are many strategies and tactics we can use before, during and after the interview process to determine if our potential boss will be the kind of person we want to work for.

This is actually a very empowering perspective by which to view the job-hunting and career building process. Let’s encourage ourselves to embrace our own greatness, our contribution to the sector and the value that we bring to the table. Yes, we want to be great staff members and support the organizational leadership. Afterall, it was Aristotle who said “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander”. And yet we don’t want to work for just anyone – we want to work for someone great.

The five articles below share strategies that will help us learn why having a great boss is so important and how we can come to understand more about our potential leaders.

1. As a way to introduce the idea of searching for and identifying a great boss, this article, “Why Finding a Great Boss Is More Important Than Finding The Perfect Job” shares why we may want to approach our job search and overall career planning process from this perspective. This article illustrates ‘[w]hy the boss is such an amazingly big deal’. During our tenure they are our teachers, mentors, guides and leaders – are they up to the task? Will they serve us well? Dig in to find out what to look for!

2. A great way to begin our search for a great boss and leader, is to make a list of the bosses with whom we feel we excelled – what was it about them that worked so well for us? What qualities did they possess? “How to Find the Best Boss to Work For”, suggests other tactics in addition to this list like meeting with employees, asking great questions during the interview process, and more.

3. In “14 Ways To Spot A Great Boss In A Job Interview”, Forbes Coaches Council outline indicators to watch for that may help you decide whether you want to work for the person interviewing you. Do they seem interested in your personal development? Are they really listening to you? Are they conveying the organizational vision and mission to you clearly? Do they use empowering language? These signs could help us decide if this is where we want to lend our talents and energy.

4. “You join the company, but you quit your boss”; this article, “5 Tips for Picking a Great Boss and Why it Matters”, begins with this adage and gives us five really practical strategies to deploy before, during and after the interview process to help us learn whether we want to work with this person. She suggests requesting the contact information of people they have managed to find out what they’re like as a leader, studying their resume to see if there’s a history of achievement, and asking lots of questions. Some of these tips are really bold and may be received with trepidation in the nonprofit sector (this is advice from tech start-ups) but it shows that as employees, we are valuable, we can exercise choice and we are worthy of greatness in our leaders and we should settle for nothing less.

5. Asking an interviewer/potential leader how they like to lead and/or manage seems obvious! But this doesn’t seem to be a common question during most interview processes in the nonprofit sector. “how to spot a good manager in an interview”, outlines some empowering lines of inquiry that we can use during an interview process that will help us learn more about this potential leader.

We hope you found these articles useful. Are there strategies you use during the interview process to learn more about your potential boss? We’d love to hear about them! Let us know in the comments below or email us at

Until next time,

The PLC Team





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