That was the question. It came up in a conversation the other day and I immediately said to myself, No! I have always been a great boss.

All kidding aside, what that does that even mean nowadays? I was a manager and a business owner way back in the 1980’s and with only a few breaks in service I have been the owner, head honcho, boss, person in charge (whatever term applies) ever since and I am not sure if we are all using the word “Boss” the same way today? I have worn many hats as I am sure you have – what hat are we talking about, exactly? Oxford Dictionary defines a boss as “A person who is in charge of a worker, group or organization.” Ok, I’ve been that. The Urban Dictionary defines a popular slang use as “the jerk in charge”. Hmm, after some reflection I can say that I have been that too. To me boss was always the person responsible for getting the job done and while I have been reliable in my career to get things done, I can also say, and not proudly that I can think of times when I got things done simply by being the jerk in charge. Sometimes it’s just my way or the highway. Never because I didn’t value the person or their contribution but sometimes it was simply an “I need you here on time” thing. Often, in the past if we made our numbers and had decent retention of staff and expanded the client base I didn’t look much further.

So, having been a LeTip member, board member and President during my 7 years in the organization I have seen this organization from several perspectives. I have been privileged to see our Sunrise LeTip chapter grow to be the largest LeTip chapter in our county and 3rd largest in the LeTip network and do it by “being family”. I know we say that at the end of every meeting but more and more it seems the backbone of our chapter and how we operate. A recent example of this unfolded during the CoVid 19 pandemic. Since March 2020 when meeting in person became impossible our chapter added members, we continued to charge dues and perhaps most importantly met every week on zoom. An intrepid group of members even took on hosting and creating zoom social events for members and their families. We bonded newly. We may have been power partners before but now; we were partners in something much bigger. Some businesses closed temporarily, and others pivoted and started doing business online instead of on the road. I am sure you have similarly inspiring accounts from your chapters on how people pulled together, or what was learned from not always being able to all pull in the same direction. I’d love to hear about your LeTip experience from this period. It was less about who was in charge and more about is everyone accounted for and ok. Sure, some members left and in many cases their seat was quickly filled. We were accountable to each other much more than before.

This experience of working out everything from how to take attendance during the pandemic, or how do we tip your business if your closed or when will it be safe to meet in public and every other public health issue du jour. We pulled together and sometimes we didn’t. That’s sometimes part of being family too. These are all situations that I might have approached differently earlier in my career or if I had sole authority or responsibility for the outcome. We didn’t all agree all the time, but we found out that we could all agree to care for each other all the time. I learned that it was more important to honor and appreciate each member because I have no idea what their dealing with. It would be easy to say that I was being more compassionate because of the pandemic but I didn’t experience the same or similar teamwork or camaraderie elsewhere or in other organizations during the pandemic. This was unique and it made an impression on me.

So yes. LeTip has made me a better boss, or perhaps more accurately LeTip has made me less of a boss. I value the opportunities LeTip affords us all to be more of a team builder. I have learned that is not always about getting it done if getting it done is going to damage the team or the synergy. If being considerate and empathetic while being accountable and holding others accountable for the intended result is a boss these days, I will gladly wear that hat.

-Guest blog written by Bruce Howard
Solar Energy Systems
LeTip of Sunrise, NY