You’ve seen great bosses in action. You’ve known a few of them personally. You may have even had a few, or at least one, who stands out in your mind as a competent leader and motivational coach. So what can you do to find a place on someone else’s list of all-time great bosses? How can you make a name for yourself as a great boss everyone wishes they worked for? The long answer is far from simple and involves patience, experience, and trial and error. But over the short term, here are a few moves that can help you take steps toward your goal.
Look for any reason to celebrate. Great leaders share our joy and encourage us to savor positive moments and achievements. When we look back through the mists of time to the best bosses we’ve ever had, we often remember them smiling, giving out high fives, and making the most of large and small victories. Get excited about both performance (great employees doing great things) and growth (mediocre employees getting stronger). Get excited about team victories and individual victories. Get excited about permanent wins and temporary wins. In fact, get excited about everything. Love your work and let it show.
You justify your position as “boss” by claiming knowledge or influence others don’t have. This means you can be expected to withstand punches others can’t, and your responsibility and influence extend further than those of your employees. So when something goes wrong, step up and take the hit. If you truly have authority, the mistakes of your team ARE technically your fault. In the meantime, those who are weaker than you should be protected from fallout and backlash.
Do the right thing, always, even when nobody is watching and there’s no chance you could be caught. Make an unrelenting habit of always doing the right thing, and when you’re standing at a fork in the road, choose the ethical and responsible path…always. If you do this as a general matter, of course you’ll be trusted to do it in the future. Reputation and character are built on a foundation of small decisions that accumulate over the course of months and years.
Make Decisions but Get Input
Don’t make decisions on your own. Gather data from multiple sources and all available factors and evidence. And after you’ve reviewed the data and considered the evidence, pause before moving forward. You’re not trying to win the award for “correct decision maker;” you want the award for “great boss” and “person who interacts successfully with others.” Being a good boss is a social state, not a solitary one. In order to win trust, praise, support, and respect, you need to work well with others. And that means soliciting input before making high stakes decisions that affect other people.
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