Having worked for over 20 years in various legal positions in both the public and private sector, I have had a range of bosses – some great, many average and some downright awful. So, when I also became a manager of people, I took what I learned from my great bosses and tried to emulate their best qualities. Here are some of the characteristics that I found set great bosses apart from the rest of the group.
Average bosses are afraid of their smartest, hardest-working employees because they believe these individuals will surpass them or make them look bad. They hesitate to share information or to enable decision-making and authority. In contrast, great bosses love to see their employees grow. They are always grooming their replacements and do whatever they can to promote and expose their people. They want their employees to maximize their potential so they give honest and timely feedback and provide guidance whenever needed.
2. Employees Are Individuals
Average bosses group everyone together. They motivate, reward and train everyone the same way. Great bosses treat people like individuals. They respect the fact that each employee has individual strengths and weaknesses and that everyone has their own motivation and style of learning. The best bosses will take time to figure out what each of these things is for every one of their employees.
3. Employees Are Peers; Not Subordinates
Ordinary bosses treat their employees like subordinates or children who need constant oversight. They think that their job is to enforce rules and to watch over people’s shoulders so they don’t make mistakes. Great bosses see employees as peers who are capable of making decisions on their own. They value and trust their employees’ work and only step in when it is absolutely necessary.
4. Work Can Be Fun
Ordinary bosses see work as something that everyone has to do and they believe their job is to make sure that their employees don’t slack off. Ordinary bosses think that strict rules and rule enforcement drive employees to work effectively. Great bosses actually enjoy their jobs and believe that everyone else can too. They motivate their staff through inspiration, energy, vision and passion. They give people assignments that align with their strengths, interests and talents. They celebrate accomplishments and give people positive feedback when they do good work.
5. Diversity is Key
Average bosses want their employees’ ideas to align with their own and they actually make hiring decisions based on like-mindedness. Great bosses actively seek out a diverse range of individuals who have different ideas. They expose themselves and their employees to new ways of thinking. They see change as an opportunity for improvement.
Great bosses change us for the better. They see more in us than we see in ourselves, and they help us learn to see it too. They inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Great bosses believe in their people, and this belief drives them to create an environment where people prosper. If you are a boss, ask yourself if your employees would describe you this way? If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to make some changes. Not only will you see an increase in effort and productivity, you’ll see a higher retention rate of your good employees.