Have you ever had a really great boss?

I have. There were a lot of reasons why she was great – her sense of humor, her intelligence, her willingness to brainstorm with me whenever I needed some help addressing a challenge or figuring out a solution.

But I have to say that the trait I valued most in her was her ability to step back and let me take the reins on a project.

I had to prove myself first, of course. Earning that trust, and that level of independence and autonomy, doesn’t come automatically in the workplace. But once she knew I was capable, reliable, and diligent, she got out of my way and let me do my thing, knowing I’d come to her when I needed her help.

So the question becomes: how do you earn that kind of trust?

One word: communication.

It comes down to making sure that you communicate your ideas, your progress, your challenges and your accomplishments proactively. Don’t wait to be asked. If you take the initiative and send a quick email update, or ask to schedule a ten minute meeting to fill her in on what’s been happening with a project, or make a phone call to give her the highlights, then she’ll realize that you’re totally on top of things. She doesn’t need to spend time micro-managing you, or feel like she needs to constantly look over your shoulder to monitor how things are going. She’ll value your ability to succinctly keep her in the loop – and will likely sing your praises to upper management, board members, and others on the team.

When you make your boss look good, and when you make her job easier, your own career will benefit.

And it all starts with open, consistent, and concise communication.

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