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60-second leadership tip #4: Do you ever say, “thank you” to your boss?

Tip #3 was about thanking your staff and colleagues. But what about your boss? Do you ever thank or compliment upward? The first time I did this, it felt extremely awkward. I told Stephen, a very senior manager, that his presentation to employees was excellent thanks to his authenticity.

Thank You Boss,

The first time, I made a few faux passes, which you can read about in my book. Despite the awkwardness, I continued to praise the people who were more senior than me; and, very probably, some of my bosses initially thought I was after something. I wasn’t. I just thought that our senior leaders are people just like us, who like to hear when they’ve done things well.

I like to think that slowly, I managed to deliver my praise in a more convincing way, gaining the freedom to give all sorts of people feedback on their strengths, as well as areas they could improve.

If you want to do the same thing, it’s of course important not to give praise for the purpose of ingratiating yourself. There’s a fine balance between cosying up to someone, and simply managing a good relationship. Think of providing positive feedback as investing in a trusted relationship, which is what you want to achieve.

After writing about it in my book, I have discussed it with many leaders. I consistently get the same response: yes, we all love to receive appreciation – also as leaders. And: it is lonely at the top and your boss is also human (I assume). Not many people will sincerely thank their bosses, so if you do, you can be sure to get noticed, and it might be a very good investment in what’s probably the most important relationship in your professional life: your relationship with your boss.


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