10 Simple Ways to be a Great Boss
Everyone can relate to having a horrible boss. There are countless war-stories from beleaguered employees about bad bosses. Adopt these 10 well-tested management principles to be successful leader, not a horrible boss.
1. There is a distinct difference between being a boss and being a leader. A boss tells people what to do. A leader inspires, motivates, instills trust and builds loyalty. By focusing on leadership, staff will learn from you and want to contribute to your success, the clients’ and their own.
2. Encourage participation by involving staff in conference calls, new business presentations, events and client meetings. By studying the way you interact, they can learn to be problem-solvers who can formulate thoughtful responses in pressure situations. These young professionals will begin to understand how their work fits into and affects the larger scope of the business.
3. Always guide staff to give you an answer. When you reward a young professional with substantial work, they will likely come to you with more questions. Never simply answer a question. Help them by asking, “What do you think? What would you do?” It is in our nature as skilled professionals to give the answer, solve the problem and move on to the next crisis.
Hand-holding your junior staff does not enable them to become critical or strategic thinkers. As a manager it is your job to mentor and train the future leaders of your organization.
4. Delegate substantial projects, not just simple tasks. As managers, we too often give task-based assignments without sharing the long-term strategic plan or business implications. Client pressures and the frantic pace of the workday often push managers to tackle tough assignments on their own. By providing more responsibility for your team, you will free yourself to tackle more strategic work and build that long-term growth plan required by C-level executives. Cultivate these junior staffers to become leaders not just tacticians.
5. You have successfully delegated higher-level assignments. New found empowerment may lead to mistakes. Don’t forget to provide constructive feedback. Hold staffers accountable for their thinking and actions. Challenge your team to evaluate the implications of their decisions. Encourage them to solve problems. Pride of ownership is a great motivator. When you show trust in your junior staff, clients will follow suit and begin to reserve calls to you for senior counsel needs.
6. Don’t forget to reward and advocate for junior staffers. Be specific with praise. A well-crafted promotion memo outlining the staffer’s accomplishments should motivate others to strive for excellence. Provide new opportunities as additional encouragement (i.e., including them in client meetings, brainstorm sessions, business trips). Raises, bonuses and recognition outside of the normal promotion cycle are even better incentives.
7. Challenge junior staffers to take charge of their career success. Many young professionals have a sense of entitlement. They feel they deserve a raise and promotion now. When a staff member asks for a raise or promotion, ask them to outline their accomplishments and concrete business contributions in writing. This exercise will help you can create a realistic road map together, and the responsibility falls on the staffer to advance based on mutually set parameters.
8. Hire only those who illustrate potential to become client leaders. Professionals are often so busy that they fill staff positions with mediocre candidates. Senior managers rarely take the time to interview junior candidates. Get involved in the hiring of entry-level staff. Dismiss those who do not show potential to excel and advance.
9. Admit you’re human. Take responsibility for your own errors. As a manager, you’re a teacher. Your student staffers watch how you handle mistakes. Show a sense of humility when you make an error. Admitting you’re wrong and working to rectify the situation in a thoughtful manner builds camaraderie and encourages an honest approach to business.
10. Conduct yourself and your approach to business, client service and management with high ethical and moral standards. Inspire future leaders by living and working with integrity. People work harder and are loyal to managers who they trust and respect. Managers who possess self-awareness, a strong work-ethic, and a collaborative spirit, build loyal, motivated and productive teams.