Have you ever had a great boss? I mean a really great boss? I’ve had many good bosses over my long career. Looking back, the ones who had the most impact on me were those who were knowledgeable, pushed me by setting high expectations and taught me new skills.
National Bosses Day is coming up on October 16. If you are a boss, it’s a perfect time to take stock and determine what improvements would make you an exceptional boss. Today we share these insights from business author Jeff Haden.
1. Look past the action to understand the motivation. Sometimes an employee makes a mistake or does the wrong thing. Sometimes an employee takes over a project or role without approval. Sometimes an employee jockeys for position, plays political games or ignores company objectives in pursuit of a personal agenda. When that happens, it’s easy to assume that person won’t listen or doesn’t care. But there is usually a deeper reason for the behavior. A good boss will look at the underlying issue to determine why the employee is frustrated or if there is any justification for the employee’s action.
2. Forgive and forget. We all make mistakes at times. When an employee makes a mistake–especially a major mistake—it’s easy to label that employee as incompetent. A good boss will view the mistake as one incident and use the opportunity to educate the employee, not judge the employee in the future based on theerror.
3. Focus on employee goals as much as organizational goals. An effective and memorable boss will inspire his or her team to achieve corporate goals, but tie in how employees will benefit by achieving the corporate goals. Whether they get professional development or an opportunity to grow, those who feel a sense of personal purpose almost always outperform employees who feel a sense of company purpose. If you’re a great boss, you know your employees well enough to tap the personal, not just the professional.
4. Provide support without seeking credit. A good boss is not about self-promotion. For example, if there is an issue with a client who is upset or an employee who is frustrated, a good boss will support the employee dealing with the issue. This means getting all the facts and giving the employee the benefit of the doubt. A good boss will support the employee, even if it sheds a negative light on the boss.
5. Make fewer public decisions. When a decision needs to be made, most of the time the best person to make that decision is the employee closest to the issue. Great bosses trust the expertise of their employees and select the appropriate person to make a decision.
6. Don’t see control as a reward. Many people desperately want to be the boss so they can call the shots and be in control of the team. An effective boss is not focused on gaining control, but instead is focused on helping others and the organization as a whole.
7. Let employees have the ideas. A good boss is a nurturing boss. You get to know your employees, their strengths and what motivates them. Then you put them in situations where they can generate ideas and have a vested interest in the goals and action steps. You see the potential in your employees—and you find ways to let them “take the ball and run with it.”
8. Always feel like you could do better. Good leadership never stops. You always strive for process improvement, better quality, faster service and a better bottom line. Good leaders also strive to understand and elevate their employees.
Source: Jeff Haden is a ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, and contributing editor to Inc. He learned much of what he knows about business and technology working his way up to managing a 250-employee book plant; everything else he picked up as a ghostwriter for innovators and business leaders. He’s written more than 50 nonfiction books, along with hundreds of articles and reports. And he’s collected four years of tips and advice in his book TransForm: Dramatically Improve Your Career, Business, Relationships, and Life … One Simple Step at a Time.
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