100 Ideas for Great Bosses, part 4: Become a boss people choose to follow with these tips
Don't worry, there won't be a quiz afterward. The real test comes every day, when you, as a boss, interact with your team. How do they evaluate your guidance? For example, what would your staffers say about Idea 76 and how it applies to you?
- People are required to follow managers. They choose to follow leaders.
- Employees never forget how you responded when they faced the best and worst times of their lives.
- Leaders manage meaning. People look to you to help make sense of challenges, joys and concerns. Be ready, honest and hopeful.
- Bosses disappoint someone every day; it comes with the territory and your many daily decisions. The response from your employees is a measure of your leadership on all the other days.
- Build critical thinking skills among your staff by deconstructing good and bad decisions. Be a good critical thinker yourself, open to other ways of doing things and new ideas from staff.
- Planning is an important part of organizational success. But don’t be so wedded to a plan that you won’t amend it for a good reason.
- Trust is the “killer app” of leadership. People choose to follow those they respect and who they believe have their best interests at heart.
- In changing times, when people are trying new things, look for “quick wins” – small victories that help them feel confidence and see success.
- Learn to manage across generations. Don’t succumb to stereotypical thinking that your elders are burned out and younger staffers are slackers. Learn about their lives and their influences and manage them accordingly.
- Brainstorming meetings work best if you make them safe places. Ask people to withhold criticism while ideas are flowing.
- Don’t set yourself up as the sole ethics guru of your work group. Build a culture in which everyone knows how to think through ethical challenges.
- Training is often the first victim of a tough economy. Be creative. You have smart people on staff who can teach and coach others.
- Who’s the best boss you boss ever worked for? Figure that out and you’ll get insights into what your manager values in a leader and how you measure up.
- Too many bosses neglect to think strategically and focus only on their slice of the organization. Smart bosses look at the big picture, always re-examining systems and structure to connect with organizational goals.
- If you’re asked to lead a new team, go on a listening tour. Get to know people and solicit ideas for improvement before making your own changes.
- The way you handle mistakes determines how willing people will be to bring you bad news. If people don’t bring the boss bad news, even worse things can happen.
- Top-down management is usually counterproductive, but smart bosses know when to take control: in crisis, if decisions are risky or expensive, and if people are in such conflict that they’ve created gridlock the boss must break.
- Hire people who are smarter than you and don’t be intimidated by them.
- Find reasons big and small to celebrate. There’s no law that says workplaces can’t be happy places.
- Let people know what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for. Take immediate action against dishonesty or discrimination.
- You may be a happy workaholic who could live in the office, but don’t create a climate in which people feel they have to emulate you.
- Really bad bosses – arrogant, ignorant, inept or corrupt – inevitably fail. Their staffs develop guerilla tactics for working around, surviving and ultimately defeating them.
- Learn how to read a room – take the emotional temperature of your team and respond with what they need. Get calm when they’re nervous and nervous if they’re too calm.
- You are not the only boss in the world who sometimes hears a voice that says, “Today’s the day they find out you really don’t deserve this job.”
- If you’ve read through all 100 of these ideas and taken even half of them to heart, the voice is definitely wrong. You deserve that job.
Our 100 idea celebration this week marks two events:
- The posting of our 100th "Great Bosses" podcast here on Poynter.org and the complete collection on iTunes U
- The news that my book, "Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know," has been scheduled for publication by Hachette in June 2012. It will be a workshop-in-a-book for managers who want people to choose to follow them.
Here's the podcast version of today's tips. I hope you found them helpful. It's tough work being a great boss.