How to Give Off Good Boss Energy, According to 8 HubSpot Leaders

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Caroline Forsey
Caroline Forsey

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We all know "good boss energy" when we see it.

good boss energy represented by a leader with her thumbs up

Maybe it's the boss who begins each 1:1 by checking-in with you, human to human. Or, perhaps it's the boss who goes out of her way to find new growth opportunities for you.

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Sometimes, those qualities can be difficult to pin down. That’s why I spoke with nine HubSpot leaders about how they foster good boss energy in their roles — and how you can, too.

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What is "Good Boss Energy"?

The term was started by HubSpot's Social team as an opportunity to introduce positivity when it comes to discussing corporate culture on social media.

Leslie Green, former Managing Editor of Brand Social at HubSpot, told me, "#CorporateTok is the internet’s favorite work-vent venue. We saw a huge opportunity to flip the script on corporate negativity and celebrate all things 'good work' and 'good leadership' by introducing 'Good Boss Energy.'"

@hubspot "Today, I will embody Good Boss Energy". Repeat these daily affirmations to bring GBE to your office. ☕ #hubspot #goodbossenergy #corporatetok ♬ original sound - HubSpot

She continues, "Good Boss Energy is our Culture Code in action. HubSpot's culture is driven by a shared passion for our mission and metrics. 

Good Boss Energy highlights the importance of authenticity in leadership and having HEART (being Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent.)"

How to Give Off Good Boss Energy, According to HubSpot Leaders

1. Having good boss energy means having good people energy.

Resa Gooding, a Principal Manager on the Customer Success team, told me about a time when two of her direct reports resigned at the same time.

Admittedly, this made her question whether she was, in fact, giving off "good boss energy". If she was, why would those employees leave?

However, she realized her direct reports weren't leaving her … They were leaving their jobs.

how to give off good boss energy according to resa gooding

"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," Gooding said.

She continues, "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. Having good boss energy requires you to listen well.

Kyle Denhoff, Director of Marketing for HubSpot's Media team, believes that being a great listener helps him give off good boss energy.

He told me, "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."

He adds, "You'll want to meet with team members 1:1 and ask thoughtful questions. Get to know them as a person, and try to understand their pain points and motivations. Be an active listener and ask follow-up questions.” 

Once you have this skill, you will notice that your team members trust you more."

Irina Rosenblit, Senior Director of Partner Development, agrees that listening well is a major component of good boss energy. 

Rosenblit adds, "I also find it valuable to be vulnerable and acknowledge what body language you’re observing or if you’re picking up on things not being said as a way of opening the door for team members to be more open with their reservations."

Practicing active listening takes time, but it's a vital skill for building any good workplace relationship.

3. To have good boss energy, show empathy.

Katie Walsh, HubSpot's Sales Director, feels that empathy is key when it comes to good boss energy. 

She says, "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."

It's a misconception that strong leaders shouldn't be too compassionate towards their employees for fear of being seen as 'weak'. However, a recent survey found that 80% of CEOs believe empathy is a key driver of success.

4. Being a good boss requires you — sometimes — to entertain the possibility that you might not be one.

Humility is a core principle of good leadership.

Principal Manager, Mid-Market Sales, Raleigh Dugal told me, "Being a good boss probably starts with entertaining the possibility that you might not be one. 

I'm leading a relatively large number of direct reports at any given time who are all going through their own individual stressors and celebrations, trials, successes, failures, and the appropriate (or not so appropriate) emotions that accompany them."

how to give off good boss energy according to raleigh dugal

He continues, "Trying to be mindful of where people are coming from during any given engagement is crucial — maybe they had a tough day and aren't ready to hear any feedback today, maybe they really need to just vent about stuff not even related to work. 

Or maybe they need a deep dive on a problem they've been trying to solve for weeks and you need to sideline less urgent items."

Dugal adds, "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."

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Actionable leadership advice from HubSpot's Co-Founder, Dharmesh Shah.

  • Qualities of Confident People
  • Leading By Example
  • Recognizing Excellence
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5. To demonstrate good boss energy, test out strategies that help them feel challenged and empowered, like "voluntelling".

Holly Park, Principal Manager of Customer Onboarding, told me, "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."

She continues, "How do I go about matching team member potential to opportunity? I keep a very short list of skills and ambitions of my direct reports and even their direct reports. That way, when I hear of an opportunity, I can do the matching in my head."

In other words: Be thoughtful and intentional about identifying areas for improvement for your employees, and find projects that help them flex that muscle.

6. To exude good boss energy, be authentic.

Paul Weston, Senior Director of Product for HubSpot's Service Hub, believes that authenticity is the key to being a good leader.

He says, "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. 

In that sense, authenticity is key. I think that people appreciate that realness, positivity, and reliability. Over time, this leads to trust and psychological safety as relationships grow."

Weston adds, "My team knows that I’m always available to work through hard problems together, and willing to get my hands dirty. Even when work gets busy, I make room for async catch ups, quick Zoom calls, or a whiteboard session. 

The truth is that building great relationships takes time and a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work. Throughout it all, it’s important to lead with humility, clear expectations, and positive 'we’ve got this' energy."

7. To give off good boss energy, be direct.

Kyle Denhoff told me that one of the most important components of a strong leader is someone who can be direct with his or her team.

He told me, "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."

He adds, "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. Side-by-side is best."

Being direct and offering constructive feedback can feel challenging, but this will ultimately help your team members continue to feel engaged and challenged in the workplace.

8. To give off good boss energy, check-in with your team's well-being.

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.

Similarly, Alanah Joseph, HubSpot's Head of Creator Partnerships, believes it's vital to allow her direct reports to make mistakes and be human, and she sees it as her responsibility to give them (and herself) plenty of grace.

how to give off good boss energy according to alanah joseph

As she puts it, "Being a 'good boss' has never been my goal. Instead, it results from a lot of self-work and my daily practice of giving myself grace. 

In battling my own perfectionism, I’ve heightened my self-awareness around my own humanness. I am allowed to make mistakes. Bad days are never ideal, but everyone has them. Learning curves are exciting because you’re developing new skills, but inevitably you will fail along the way."

She adds, "The best thing I can do for my team is to be transparent and afford them the grace that I give to myself. My gut feeling is that if you ask your team to do their best, but provide a safe environment for people to be human, you will end up with a high-performing team. So far it’s worked for me."

For Joseph, this includes starting each of her weekly team meetings with “Red light, green light,” as a wellness check: 

  • Green light means you’re doing great, feeling motivated, and ready to tackle the week. 
  • Yellow light means you’re close to bandwidth or you need additional support.
  • Red light means for whatever reason (no need to disclose), you can’t do your full workload that week.

What "Good Boss Energy" Means to HubSpotters

When I was collecting submissions on which HubSpot leaders' exemplify "good boss energy", I also got some fantastic responses from HubSpotters on why their manager had good boss energy.

For instance, Megan Scott, a Mid-Market Growth Specialist, recommended her manager Raleigh Dugal because, as she puts it, "There was one point when I felt like I was being high maintenance on his already packed calendar. He reminded me that out of all his responsibilities, helping me succeed was his top priority."

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

We're committed to your privacy. HubSpot uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy.

Free Leadership Lessons Guide

Actionable leadership advice from HubSpot's Co-Founder, Dharmesh Shah.

  • Qualities of Confident People
  • Leading By Example
  • Recognizing Excellence
  • And More!
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Click this link to access this resource at any time.

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Similarly, Principal Customer Onboarding Specialist, Bridget Donelson, says:

"Amanda Volk is my manager and she is amazing! She has super good boss energy. Examples of her awesome boss energy:

  • Always being available for me to ask a question and NEVER dropping the ball.
  • Commenting back to me on a Sunday night when I say I will be late to start on Monday.
  • Having my back 100% and bolstering my confidence when I am experiencing imposter syndrome.
  • Being able to be myself with her and bring all of my energy!
  • Doing a psych safety check in weekly and increasing her 1:1s with me when I was having a rough time.
  • Always asking about my kids and husband (caring about me as a person)
  • Offering constructive feedback and helping me create a plan for growth and development in my role mastery.  Plus, being able to admit to my weaker areas without worries of negative repercussions!
  • Celebrating my achievements with me and posting recognition in our team channel."

The Bottom Line About GBE

Ultimately, giving off good boss energy takes time, effort, and intentionality to do effectively, but it pays off. 

It inspires your team to take bigger risks, encourages them to be more engaged and excited about the work at-hand, and lets them know they can feel comfortable being honest with you when mistakes arise.

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