I have had 12 managers in the past 5 years, that is to say a little over 2 managers a year. I have built a few archetypes of managers over this period and when I interview, I actively look at which ones my new boss would fit in. These archetypes are not exclusive—the best ones embody some degree of all of them. All of the ones I list capture positive qualities, bad managers are toxic, and I have very little patience with humoring them.

  • The shield
    Makes sure that you have the room to get your job done. They provide you with political cover when you need it, and ensure that you are not frustrated with distractions.

  • The connector
    Always put you in front and make sure you get noticed for your efforts. If you have an idea that you have been dwelling on, they will get you in touch with the right people to move it forward. They tend to be your champions for promotions and stand up for you when you are not around.

  • The mentor
    Helps show you how you can grow. They assist you in figuring out how to turn a job into a career by expanding your knowledge and skill. When I have had good mentors, they have helped me see further, not just on how to do my job better, but which skills should I be building to be better prepared for the future. They have given me the boost to see the world from their vantage point and to give me the critical feedback to sharpen my skills in a sheltered manner.

  • The encourager
    Enourages you to find your best work. They have a way of pushing you to try harder. Their questions are insightful and make you challenge your own assumptions. They help you not be satisfied with settling through a combination of being stubborn in not accepting mediocrity, and providing perspective on what’s missing.