Want to be a Better Leader?

Who you report to has a huge impact on your growth, happiness and success.  And, when you are a great boss, you will motivate your team to work hard, boost retention rates, and create a fulfilling work environment.  Leadership is a skill you can learn and practice.  These are 11 things that some of the best bosses do:

  • They earn your trust

Trust fuels the ability to give honest feedback, to have difficult conversations, and to partner together to build great things.  It’s a two-way street –while bosses need to trust their team to get the job done, they also have to prove they’ll make good on their word and act in the team’s best interest.  Being open, approachable and owning up to mistakes helps too.  Say “I don’t know” when you lack answers and then go find them!

  • They understand you have a life

Learn a bit about everyone’s life outside the office.  It can help you better understand their strengths and challenges and create new opportunities.  Showing that you’re human in important.  Modeling positive behavior contributes to a happier, healthier work environment.

  • They listen, then act

The ability to take time to listen, hear multiple perspectives and then thoughtfully and swiftly make a decision is something best bosses do.  Creating a collaborative energy can help you get more out of your team because they will feel that a great idea can come from anyone.  Even if you disagree with a recommendation, make it clear that you hear what the person had to say and explain why you decided on a different path.  Teams need to feel engaged and that comes from feeling like their contributions are meaningful.

  • They help you find your purpose in your work

A good leader reminds their team of the whys behind the work to keep them inspired, focused and passionate.  A strong vision can also help guide tough decisions.  When a leader connects the day-to-day to a broader purpose, it becomes clearer what falls outside the line.

  • They celebrate small wins

Just as important as having an eye on the big picture is showing appreciation for the tiny victories along the way.  Taking a moment to toast a win, give a shout out at a staff meeting, or commiserate after a grueling week can have a lasting effect.  A thank-you from a boss on a hard day can go a long way.

  • They are up-front about their quirks

The best bosses are self-aware and understand what it feels like to work for them.  They share these things with their teams to help avoid miscommunication or anxiety.  Maybe you keep your door shut because it helps you focus, not because you’re closed off.  Share that information and the best way to catch your attention.  If you value efficiency and don’t like making small talk, let your employees know that.

  • They build a team

A good hire goes beyond a resume of accomplishments – think about how a new person will add to or detract from the whole.  Too many new managers forget the interpersonal part of putting teams together.  And research shows that having diverse perspectives can positively impact both creative and financial performance.  Decide what skills, personality type of professional background may be missing from your team, then zero in on those qualities during the interview process.

  • They invest in your personally

More than two-thirds of recent college graduates stay at their first job for a year or less, according a 2016 survey.  If you want employees to stick around for a while, show them you recognize that their career path is bigger than this one role.  Discover their unique strengths and play to them.  Don’t assume you know what motivates each member of your team – ask!  For some, it may be learning new things or being invited to meetings.  Some may perform best when there’s time to prepare, while others shine when brain-storming on their feet.  Give both types of people a chance to succeed.

  • They let go

It’s a hard thing for a manager to let go, but keep this in mind; you don’t accomplish the big stuff by micromanaging people.  If your team feels like you’re going to swoop in with your ideas, or if they don’t check their work because they assume you will, output and attitudes will suffer. 

  • They start you off on the right foot

Beginning any new job can be exciting and overwhelming.  The best bosses discuss expectations and work styles from the start.  This is vital to ensuring someone’s success, and most people don’t put as much emphasis on it as they should.  Learn about your new employee.  Ask questions like, “How do you like to get feedback?” “Do you work better in a quiet environment or a collaborative one?” “What do you want out of your boss?”  Share your preferences too.  How do you like to be approached with questions?  How often do you meet with your direct reports?  One of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking the time to review communication styles.  Also, discuss the culture of success; explain how you and the company measure success and what good performance means.

  • They solve problems with you

There’s a difference between micromanaging and stepping in when an employee is struggling.  If an employee has hit a wall or has a big deadline approaching, ask what they need to get the work done and wait for their suggestions.  Employees should look to you not to fix a problem for them but to empower them to find the right solution.  If an employee is really blocked, brainstorm together.  A good boss will guide you and remove obstacles on your behalf.

Adapted from – 11 Things the Best Bosses Do by Kathleen M. Harris – Real Simple magazine – March 2019 Plain Text;

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