• Nancy Riopel

What It Means To Be A Supervisor

Updated: Apr 18

Some people strive to be the boss and others strive to be the support.


For a long time, the term boss was the accepted title, and it truly described the role well. It was about telling other people what to do and has a punitive undertone.

In more recent times, we have moved away from how supervisor and boss have been used interchangeably. There has been a shift in the role of what it means to be a boss, and we no longer find the term as an acceptable way to define a position of authority, at least not on job descriptions or on business cards.


So what is the ‘true role’ of a supervisor?

  • Supervisors ensure their direct reports know what is expected of them.

  • They have the knowledge and skills to get the job done.

  • They have the tools they need to do the job well.

  • Learning to do increasingly more challenging jobs or at least master the job the achievement of the goals set out of them.

What is sad, is that this role is often not clearly defined for supervisors, and they aren’t often given the knowledge, skills and tools they need to do a great job as a supervisor.


Doing well in a frontline position is not sufficient to be a great supervisor.




You move from being responsible for outcomes to being responsible for people who are responsible for outcomes. That takes a whole new mindset and a very different set of skills. This is something I have had the pleasure of helping different businesses and companies successfully strive towards. Leadership is top down, so it's important to understand your role in a supervisory position.

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