Early in my career, I was struggling with delivering a project in a way that moved our efforts along adequately, even though I had been doing good work. In reviewing a draft with my boss, she asked in frustration, “Do you understand what the function of our department is?”

I was shocked by the question, and while it brought me up short, it did NOTHING to help solve the challenge in front of me. It was an opportunity to teach, but she decided to take a shot instead.

So how was this life-changing?

This and many other actions and comments she made over time helped shaped my managerial style – to do everything opposite of what she did!

I learned a lot technically, but perhaps most importantly, learned an incredible amount about how a bad boss can disintegrate employee loyalty and allegiance. Everybody who has worked for me since has been the beneficiary.

Note: This is one of a series of posts on life-changing gifts. - Mike Brown