Learn How to Give Off ‘Good Boss Energy‘ and Be an Authentic, People-First Manager

In today‘s fast-paced, ever-changing workplace, employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. They want to work for managers who are authentic, empathetic, and invested in their growth and well-being. In short, they want bosses who give off "good boss energy."

But what exactly is good boss energy, and how can managers cultivate it? To find out, we spoke with eight leaders at HubSpot, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform. These experts shared their insights and experiences on what it takes to be a people-first manager and create a positive, supportive work environment.

What is Good Boss Energy?

Good boss energy is the intangible quality that sets great managers apart. It‘s the combination of authenticity, empathy, and emotional intelligence that allows leaders to connect with their team members on a human level and bring out their best work.

As Alanah Joseph, HubSpot‘s Head of Creator Partnerships, puts it: "Good boss energy is about being transparent and affording your team the grace that you give to yourself. It‘s about recognizing that everyone is human and has bad days, and creating a safe environment for people to be themselves."

This sentiment is echoed by other HubSpot leaders, who emphasize the importance of vulnerability, active listening, and genuine care for employees‘ well-being.

Why Good Boss Energy Matters

In today‘s competitive talent market, good boss energy is more important than ever. A recent survey by Gallup found that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, and that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive and 59% less likely to leave their jobs than disengaged teams.

Moreover, employees increasingly expect their managers to be more than just task-masters. According to a 2022 report by Deloitte, 86% of millennials and Gen Z workers want their employers to prioritize mental health and well-being, and 83% want their managers to show empathy and understanding.

By embodying good boss energy, managers can not only attract and retain top talent, but also create a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation that drives business success.

How to Give Off Good Boss Energy: Insights from HubSpot Leaders

So, how can managers cultivate good boss energy in their own leadership styles? Here are some key insights and tips from the HubSpot leaders we spoke with:

1. Be Authentic and Vulnerable

One of the most important aspects of good boss energy is authenticity. As Paul Weston, Senior Director of Product for HubSpot‘s Service Hub, puts it: "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."

Being authentic means being willing to show vulnerability and admit when you don‘t have all the answers. It means being transparent about your own struggles and challenges, and creating a safe space for your team members to do the same.

Resa Gooding, a Principal Manager on HubSpot‘s Customer Success team, shares a powerful example of this. When two of her direct reports resigned at the same time, she initially questioned whether she was giving off good boss energy. But then she realized:

"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. 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. Listen Actively and Show Empathy

Another key component of good boss energy is active listening and empathy. As Kyle Denhoff, Director of Marketing for HubSpot‘s Media team, explains:

"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."

Active listening means giving your full attention to your team members, asking thoughtful questions, and seeking to understand their perspectives and needs. It means being present in the moment and setting aside distractions or preconceived notions.

Empathy, meanwhile, is the ability to put yourself in someone else‘s shoes and feel what they are feeling. As Katie Walsh, HubSpot‘s Sales Director, notes:

"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."

Research shows that empathy is a critical leadership skill. A 2021 study by Catalyst found that empathy has a direct impact on employee engagement, innovation, and inclusion. Specifically:

  • 61% of people with highly empathic senior leaders report often or always being innovative at work, compared to only 13% of people with less empathic senior leaders.
  • 76% of people with highly empathic senior leaders report often or always feeling engaged, compared to only 32% of people with less empathic senior leaders.
  • 50% of people with highly empathic senior leaders report that their workplace is inclusive, compared to only 17% of people with less empathic senior leaders.

3. Provide Stretch Opportunities and Support Growth

Good boss energy also means being invested in your team members‘ growth and development. This includes providing stretch opportunities that push them out of their comfort zones and help them build new skills and confidence.

As Holly Park, Principal Manager of Customer Onboarding at HubSpot, shares:

"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."

Of course, providing stretch opportunities is not enough on its own. Managers must also provide the support and resources needed for employees to succeed, and create a psychologically safe environment where it‘s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

In fact, a 2019 study by Google found that psychological safety was the most important factor in determining team effectiveness. Teams with high levels of psychological safety were more likely to take risks, admit mistakes, and learn from each other.

4. Be Direct and Offer Constructive Feedback

Good boss energy also requires being direct and offering constructive feedback to help team members grow and improve. As Kyle Denhoff notes:

"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."

This can be challenging for many managers, who may worry about damaging relationships or hurting feelings. But research shows that employees actually crave more feedback from their managers. A 2016 study by Gallup found that employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are 3.2 times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less.

The key is to deliver feedback in a way that is specific, actionable, and focused on growth rather than criticism. As Denhoff advises: "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."

5. Check-in on Your Team‘s Well-being

Finally, good boss energy means being attuned to your team members‘ well-being and creating a culture of care and support. This has become especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has blurred the lines between work and home life and taken a toll on mental health.

As Alanah Joseph shares:

"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 — tells my manager what I need and how she can support me."

Other HubSpot leaders have implemented similar check-in practices, such as starting team meetings with a "red light, green light" wellness check, or simply making space for team members to share what‘s on their mind.

The benefits of prioritizing employee well-being are clear. A 2021 report by Deloitte found that organizations that focus on well-being see improvements in employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Specifically:

  • 83% of employees at organizations with a strong focus on well-being report being engaged, compared to only 53% at organizations with a weak focus on well-being.
  • 56% of employees at organizations with a strong focus on well-being report being productive, compared to only 36% at organizations with a weak focus on well-being.
  • 81% of employees at organizations with a strong focus on well-being say they plan to stay with their employer for the next year, compared to only 53% at organizations with a weak focus on well-being.

Conclusion

Good boss energy is not just a feel-good concept – it‘s a critical leadership skill that can have a measurable impact on employee engagement, productivity, and retention. By embodying authenticity, empathy, and a growth mindset, managers can create a positive, supportive work environment that brings out the best in their teams.

Of course, cultivating good boss energy is an ongoing journey that requires self-reflection, vulnerability, and a willingness to learn and grow. But as the HubSpot leaders we spoke with demonstrate, the payoff is well worth it.

As Raleigh Dugal, Principal Manager of Mid-Market Sales at HubSpot, puts it:

"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."

By embracing the power of good boss energy, managers can not only drive business success, but also make a positive impact on the lives of their team members. And in today‘s world, that‘s a legacy worth striving for.