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.
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What is “Good Boss Energy”?
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.
Leslie Green, HubSpot’s Managing Editor of Brand Social, told me, “#CorporateTok is the internet’s favorite work vent venue. But to grow better, you have to do things differently. When we entered TikTok, we saw a huge opportunity to flip the script on corporate negativity and celebrate all things ‘good work’ and ‘good leadership’ by introducing ‘Good Boss Energy.'”
She continues, “Good Boss Energy is our Culture Code in action. HubSpot’s culture is driven by a shared passion for our mission and metrics. It is a culture of amazing, growth-minded people whose values include using good judgement and solving for the customer. Good Boss Energy highlights the importance of authenticity in leadership and having HEART (being Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent.)”
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.
How to Give Off Good Boss Energy, According to 9 HubSpot Leaders
1. Having good boss energy means having good people energy.
Resa Gooding, a Principal Manager on the Customer Success team, told me that she started off her week with two of her direct reports resigning.
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.”
2. Having good boss energy requires you to listen well.
Kyle Denhoff, Director of Marketing for HubSpot’s Media team, believes that being a great listener helps him give off good boss energy.
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.
Irina Rosenblit, Senior Director of Partner Success, agrees that listening well is a major component of good boss energy. As she puts it, “Being a good boss is hard. It requires a lot of intentionality in the way you approach problems, team members, and communication. For example, to help a team member truly feel heard you need to listen without interrupting and then repeat back what you understood to make sure you’re on the same page.”
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.”
Practicing active listening takes time, but it’s easier if you limit distractions during 1:1s. Close all tabs on your screen besides Zoom, and take handwritten notes if it helps you concentrate on your direct reports, rather than the emails in your inbox or the other tasks on your to-do list.
3. To have good boss energy, show empathy.
Customer Onboarding Specialist Manager Rory Kelly believes that having good boss energy is actually very simple … As long as you demonstrate empathy.
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.”
Empathy is a vital component of leadership success — in fact, a recent survey found that 80% of CEOs believe empathy is a key driver of success, as it builds trust, prevents a toxic workplace, and helps increase employee retention and engagement.
Katie Walsh, HubSpot’s Sales Director, agrees that empathy is critical. She says, “You need to step outside of the numbers and the data and remember it’s all about your people. If you genuinely care about your people, they feel it and appreciate it. Then, as a leader, you can lean into that emotion to ignite a fire within your people to help them achieve what they once thought was impossible.”
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.
4. Being a good boss requires you — sometimes — to entertain the possibility that you might not be one.
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.
Principal Manager, Mid-Market Sales, Raleigh Dugal told me, “Being a good boss probably starts with entertaining the possibility that you might not be one. I’m leading a relatively large number of direct reports at any given time who are all going through their own individual stressors and celebrations, trials, successes, failures, and the appropriate (or not so appropriate) emotions that accompany them.”
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:
- Ask for help from your peers
- Admit your mistakes or when you don’t know the answer to something
- Encourage new ideas and alternative perspectives from your team
- Show your enthusiasm and support for each team member
- Take accountability when issues arise
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.”
Additionally, being a good leader means fostering your employees’ growth and helping them scale-up on their strengths.
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.”
5. To demonstrate good boss energy, test out strategies that help them feel challenged and empowered, like “voluntelling”.
Holly Park, Principal Manager of Customer Onboarding, told me, “Of all the strategies I employ as a manager to release this potential, the one that comes up most often from former team members is my ability to ‘voluntell’ them for special assignments. Apparently, I have a way of volunteering my team members for a stretch project that feels both empowering and challenging. It is in that discomfort that my team members grow.”
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.
6. To exude good boss energy, be authentic.
Paul Weston, Senior Director of Product for HubSpot’s Service Hub, believes that authenticity is the key to being a good leader.
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.”
7. To give off good boss energy, be direct.
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.
8. To give off good boss energy, check-in with your team’s well-being.
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.
Similarly, Alanah Joseph, HubSpot’s Head of Creator Partnerships, believes it’s vital to allow her direct reports to make mistakes and be human, and she sees it as her responsibility to give them (and herself) plenty of grace.
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.”
What “Good Boss Energy” Means to HubSpotters
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.
For instance, Megan Scott, a Mid-Market Growth Specialist, recommended her manager Raleigh Dugal because, as she puts it, “There was one point when I felt like I was being high maintenance on his already packed calendar. He reminded me that out of all his responsibilities, helping me succeed was his top priority.”
Similarly, Principal Customer Onboarding Specialist, Bridget Donelson, says:
“Amanda Volk is my manager and she is amazing! She has super good boss energy. Examples of her awesome boss energy:
- Always being available for me to ask a question and NEVER dropping the ball.
- Commenting back to me on a Sunday night when I say I will be late to start on Monday.
- Having my back 100% and bolstering my confidence when I am experiencing imposter syndrome.
- Being able to be myself with her and bring all of my energy!
- Doing a psych safety check in weekly and increasing her 1:1s with me when I was having a rough time.
- Always asking about my kids and husband (caring about me as a person)
- Offering constructive feedback and helping me create a plan for growth and development in my role mastery. Plus, being able to admit to my weaker areas without worries of negative repercussions!
- celebrating my achievements with me and posting recognition in our team channel.”
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.