Becoming A Better Boss

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April 11, 2016

The room is quiet.  A dozen eager supervisors are listening intently to me at the front of the room.  I say, “Close your eyes and I want you to picture the face of the best boss you ever had.  Think about why they were so great.  What did they do or say?  How did they treat you?  What made them different than other bosses you’ve had?  Okay, once you have a clear picture... open your eyes.”

Eyes flutter open and the class is smiling as we begin to share our stories.  I’ve been doing this exercise for more than 10 years, and here are the responses I hear most often:

My boss...

  • Took a genuine interest in what mattered to me.
  • Cared about my success.  
  • Believed in my skills and talent.
  • Paid attention to my growth & development.
  • Helped me to identify and reach my goals.

Then I ask a few more questions:  

“Within reason, would you do just about anything for that boss?”  

                                           - I always get a resounding “Yes!”  

“Would you say your boss was a good motivator?”

                                           - “Absolutely!” 

It’s not hard to understand: Employees who feel valued are more highly motivated. Follow this thinking, and you’ll find that improving your leadership skills isn’t as tough as it seems. Once you recall your own positive experiences, you can then set your intention to treat people the way you want to be treated.  

Here are some simple tips for building a trusting, caring and authentic relationship with each person on your team.

1.     Create a personal connection. Get to know each individual you supervise. Ask questions, then listen wholeheartedly and carefully to the answers. Find out about their professional goals and desires as well as their personal interests. This does not mean you need to become their best friend. Rather, it is about building an empathic human connection.

2.     Show an interest in their development.  Most employees want to grow and learn.  As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to develop talent.  Help each person to identify steps to achieve their goals.  Send them to a class, loan them a favorite book or work with them to create their learning plan.  Use your position power to positively impact their future.

3.     Listen to ideas, concerns and suggestions.  When people feel heard, they feel respected.  This simple act of listening builds trust, reduces anxiety and creates a more positive work environment. 

4.     Speak the Truth. Be honest. Be willing to share challenges or teachable moments you have faced. By keeping your connections authentic, your employees will get to know you better too. Instead of guessing what you want, they’ll learn and know what works to align best with overall team goals.

5.     Offer stretch opportunities.  When you allow employees to take on new tasks and projects, it sends the clear message.  “I trust you.  I know you can do it.  I believe in you.” Help set your employees up for success by providing simple guidelines, ongoing support and explicit goals.

6.     Embrace coaching moments.  As employees take on new tasks, be prepared that things won’t always go according to plan.  Remind people that mistakes offer great chances to learn, as they provide us with a whole new perspective.  Help staff to debrief and discover what worked, what didn’t and how to create an improved approach for next time.

7.     Acknowledge Success.  When an employee or team achieves an accomplishment, take time to acknowledge the moment.  Whether private or public, be specific in your praise and make sure to thank them for their effort.

So, how do you think your team would rate your leadership?  Are you working to be the best boss you can be?  Goldin Leadership Group has both individual and group programs to help you improve your skills, set and reach your own goals and achieve your potential.  Check out our website and call to schedule your 30 minute complimentary coaching session.