Five Questions Supervisors Can Ask Themselves

March 1, 2000
Excerpted with permission of the publisher Jossey-Bass, a Wiley company, from "The 21st Century Supervisor." Copyright (c) 2000 by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. This book is available at all bookstores, Amazon, and from the Jossey-Bass Web site at, or call 1-800-956-7739.

The frontline leaders presented in here each tell a different story of success. Although their paths have been different, they embody all that is needed to be a twenty-first-century supervisor. Actual job titles may differ from one organization to another, but people who support others and provide leadership qualify themselves for positions of trust in the twenty-first century.

Here are five questions that only you can answer. Be truthful with yourself as you respond to each statement by circling Yes or No.

Yes No 1. I understand all internal reports that are provided to me.

Yes No 2. In the past year I have taken classes on my own time to improve my understanding of business principles, computers, or quality.

Yes No 3. I spend a portion of my day talking with my employees one-on-one to better understand their needs.

Yes No 4. I believe education for supervisors is a never-ending process.

Yes No 5. I am committed to educating my employees on the new things I’m learning.

If you cannot respond yes to all these statements at this time, take heart. As the stories of Greg, Debbie, John, and Gary demonstrate, it is never too late to begin. However, to succeed as a twenty-first-century supervisor, you must make your own decision to seek improvements in your career, just as these four supervisors did. Take a good look at the questions to which you had to answer no and determine today to work on these areas. All the benefits of becoming a twenty-first-century supervisor are waiting for you.