9 Hidden Qualities of Stellar Bosses by Jeff Haden

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DeM Banter: big Jeff Haden fan….and another great piece to ponder…

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What your employees see you doing matters. But often it’s what they can’t see that matters more.

Good bosses look good on paper. Great bosses look great in person; their actions show their value.

Yet some bosses go even farther. They’re remarkable–not because of what you see them do but what you don’t see them do.

Where remarkable bosses are concerned, what you see is far from all you get:

They forgive… and they forget.

When an employee makes a mistake–especially a major mistake–it’s easy to forever view that employee through the perspective of that mistake.

I know. I’ve done it.

But one mistake, or one weakness, is just one part of the whole person.

Great bosses are able to step back, set aside a mistake, and think about the whole employee.

Remarkable bosses are also able to forget that mistake, because they know that viewing any employee through the lens of one incident may forever impact how they treat that employee.

And they know the employee will be able to tell.

To forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.

They transform company goals into the employees’ personal goals.

Great bosses inspire their employees to achieve company goals.

Remarkable bosses make their employees feel that what they do will benefit them as much as it does the company. After all, whom will you work harder for: A company or yourself?

Whether they get professional development, an opportunity to grow, a chance to shine, a chance to flex their favorite business muscles, employees who feel a sense of personal purpose almost always outperform employees who feel a sense of company purpose.

And they have a lot more fun doing it.

Remarkable bosses know their employees well enough to tap the personal, not just the professional.

They look past the action to the emotion and motivation.

Sometimes employees make mistakes or simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes they take over projects or roles without approval or justification. Sometimes they jockey for position, play political games, or ignore company objectives in pursuit of personal goals.

When that happens it’s easy to assume they don’t listen or don’t care. But almost always there’s a deeper reason: They feel stifled, they feel they have no control, they feel marginalized or frustrated–or maybe they are just trying to find a sense of meaning in their work that pay rates and titles can never provide.

Effective bosses deal with actions. Remarkable bosses search for the underlying issues that, when overcome, lead to much bigger change for the better.

They support without seeking credit.

A customer is upset. A vendor feels shortchanged. A coworker is frustrated. Whatever the issue, good bosses support their employees. They know that to do otherwise undermines the employee’s credibility and possibly authority.

Afterword, most bosses will say to the employee, “Listen, I took up for you, but…”

Remarkable bosses don’t say anything. They feel supporting their employees–even if that shines a negative spotlight on themselves–is the right thing to do and is therefore unremarkable.

Even though we all know it isn’t.

They make fewer public decisions.

When a decision needs to be made, most of the time the best person to make that decision isn’t the boss. Most of the time the best person is the employee closest to the issue.

Decisiveness is a quality of a good boss. Remarkable bosses can be decisive but often in a different way: They decide they aren’t the right person and then decide who is the right person.

They do it not because they don’t want to avoid making those decisions but because they know they shouldn’t make those decisions.

They don’t see control as a reward.

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They always go home feeling they could have done better.

Leadership is like a smorgasbord of insecurity. Bosses worry about employees and customers and results. You name it, they worry about it.

That’s why remarkable bosses go home every day feeling they could have done things a little better or smarter. They wish they had treated employees with a little more sensitivity or empathy.

Most importantly, they always go home feeling they could have done more to fulfill the trust their employees place in them.

And that’s why, although you can’t see it, when they walk in the door every day remarkable bosses make a silent commitment to do their jobs even better than they did yesterday.

And then they do.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

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