All bosses need to possess a similar set of core skills.
Attention to detail, grace under fire, a keen eye for the bottom line, process-oriented and results driven – these are all qualities that even a mediocre manager could reasonably be expected to demonstrate every day.
What sets the great bosses apart though is what they give back to their employees, the possibilities and performance that they empower in others rather than what they themselves possess.
In this article we’ll break out the top ten things great bosses provide to those who work under them.
While most people react positively to firm leadership, nobody enjoys being micro-managed. A good boss knows when to step in and steer and when to let people simply get on with what they’re good at.
With the right set of procedures and protocols in place, independence is a key quality to be actively cultivated and can be a real innovation driver in any organisation.
- Crystal clear expectations
We humans are complex creatures. Two people performing the same task with different expectations will produce radically different results and experience completely different emotional states before, during and after doing so.
Setting expectations and then managing them is one of the most important things a leader can do.
Get this wrong and you’re on a fast-track to plummeting morale and a toxic work environment.
- Meaningful objectives
Setting objectives is one of those areas that management traditionally relishes and employees often loathe. It’s not hard to see why either.
Q1 “stretch targets” couched in cargo-culting MBA-speak and written purely for the benefit of the upper echelons of the company are not the most motivating of goals for employees in the front line.
A great boss breaks down the overall mission into measurable, personally meaningful objectives for each team member to give them a prize worth winning.
- A wider sense of purpose
Your team can be stood there grumbling every day as they stack one brick on top of another or their eyes can be shining with purpose at the prospect of building a cathedral. Which scenario unfolds will be largely a reflection of how effectively you set the tone.
- The chance to make a difference
Everyone wants to feel they can make a difference. Smart managers make this a daily opportunity for employees by empowering them to make decisions on their own and reaching out to them for input on future changes for the department or company as a whole.
- A real sense of connection
Leadership styles will vary from boss to boss but the days of aloof, remote CEOs or department heads being able to inspire the best in their workforce are over.
Companies are increasingly realising that a sense of connection is the catalyst for extraordinary results. Consider the extra mile Apple are going in designing their space age campus specifically around heightened social interaction.
A great boss gets in there and mixes, taking the time to interact with employees on a human level rather than treating them as pawns.
- The gift of consistency
“Management by mood” is an exceptionally poor strategy to employ over the long-term and most great job-related horror stories will usually have a capricious, reactive person at their core.
A big part of the reason that managers get the big bucks is that they are being paid to rise above the level of knee-jerk reaction and consistently operate according to a clear set of principles while under pressure.
This consistency breeds confidence and respect in the team that supports you and is a wonderful gift to give to your employees.
- Behind closed doors criticism
Bosses will need to deliver harsh words on occasion. That’s just a simple fact of life. 99% of the time though, there’s no reason for those critiques to be delivered in public.
The most notorious recent example of the opposite of this is probably the dramatic public firing carried out by AOL’s Tim Armstrong during a work conference call but public shaming’s are a perennially widespread problem.
Take a lesson from the world of professional sports. Managers will typically go to great pains to avoid singling out players for errors in post-match press conferences even if they’re due for a pasting behind closed doors.
On the rare occasions you see it happening, it’s usually interpreted as a classic sign of weakness and a precursor to the chop. The world of business is no different.
- Generous public praise
Good managers have no problem at all giving credit where it’s due and public recognition of a job well done is a superb way of rewarding employees and boosting team morale.
- The chance to improve their prospects
The long term job of every great manager is to find their own replacement. Great managers give each and every member of their team clear opportunities to progress and shepherd them along the path to future success.
If you’re managing a team, take some of the points above on board and make it a weekly goal for yourself to make sure you’re concentrating on giving something back to your team rather than obsessively focusing on what you can get.
Your own prospects, and those of your team, will improve considerably as a result.