There are a lot of great bosses out there.
I was thinking back on the jobs I’ve had over the years and I’ve had some great bosses.
All the way back to when I worked in a pro shop in high school and college. The pro there was a first rate guy. Blue collar. Loved golf and was good at it. He got along great with the members. They loved him and he ran a good small business there in the shop.
That’s a tricky thing. A boss really isn’t there to be everybody’s friend. It’s in most people’s interest for him to run a good business and to make sure everything and everyone is working efficiently and in the best interest of the business.
These insights will focus mostly on how to lead and treat people as a boss. I think they align well with also running a good business, which the best bosses always seem to have as their main focus.
1. Ask More Questions
This is an important one.
We often think about the boss has being someone with all the answers.
But the people we often respect and enjoy talking to the most in life are those that ask questions. And ironically, those that ask the most questions often have the most answers.
Think about it…
If you’re always asking questions and seeking information you’re always going to have more right answers.
At a company where I used to work the CEO would walk around the office every month. He’d stop in to chat and he’d mostly ask questions of every employee.
That always stuck with me.
2. Check-In More Often
Speaking of checking in…
It’s easy to assume that your team is going about their business just fine. Things might be operating all well and good.
But in any business there are issues. Even little issues can fester and bother the team. There are always ways to make things better. Ways to fix issues employees are having and ways to make things more efficient.
The best bosses I have been around made it a point to check-in more often than seemed necessary. Sometimes there was little to nothing to discuss, but other times a key issue could be brought up and discussed.
3. Know Your Vision (And Share It)
It’s difficult for a team to work toward something if they don’t know what they’re working toward.
Key visions are important for just about any business.
For the boss, it begins with knowing the vision for yourself. If you don’t know what you’re working for then your team sure won’t know.
And if you have a vision it’s important to share it.
Work it out on your own. Work on it with your superiors and such. Flesh it out so that it’s clear and concise. Talk to your team about it and see if they have feedback or if they’re confused.
The best companies I’ve been part of were entrepreneurial. They gave employees ownership over tasks. They allowed employees to grow within the company even in ways outside of moving up the org. chart.
New projects. New research. All kinds of things.
The secret was giving the employees responsibility and not micromanaging everything.
This goes along with providing some rules or a framework. You can’t have chaos. People like rules. But they like freedom within a framework. It’s a little paradox that the best bosses understand.
5. Don’t Over-judge Mistakes
Your team will make mistakes. They might miss a deadline because they overlooked an email. They might put the wrong info on a spreadsheet or something like that.
Something to do if this happens is to think back to your own career. Think if you’ve made the same mistake before. Chances are that you have and that you didn’t dwell on the mistake. You probably just fixed it and moved on.
Give your team space and time to do the same. They know they made a mistake. They’ll move on especially if you’ve empowered them.
Focus on moving forward. Everybody is human. We error, but we also improve.
6. Discuss Personal Motivations
Everybody, by nature it seems, is living life for themselves. Or for their family. It’s gotta be natural instinct and a survival mechanism.
We’re still not too far removed from our ancient ancestors. We have to worry about ourselves before we can worry about others.
But that’s tricky in a business setting. The focus has to be on the business more than the individuals.
The best bosses, though, seem to be able to understand personal motivations and find ways to align them with the direction of the company.
This goes along with talking to your employees, asking questions and learning what they want out of life. Learn what they want for themselves and for their families. Learn what they want to achieve with their career.
From there you can look for ways to align motivation with positive things for the company.
Say an employee likes new things to work on, fresh things. They might be a good person for researching new technology. They might not be the one to see it through all the way. That might be for more of a grinder on the team, but they can be the person out front looking at the newest opportunities.
7. Provide Positive Feedback
Positive feedback is a very powerful tool.
Both negative and positive feedback have a role in business. But generally it seems that bosses focus too much on negative. And it should actually be much more skewed toward the positive.
When your employees do something well, acknowledge it and encourage more of it.
8. Take The Blame
There might not be something worse than a boss throwing an employee under the bus.
Even if the employee is in the wrong the relationship can be killed permanently if the boss says something to the full team or to a vendor or to a client or partner.
It’s not a fun part of the job, but with clients it’s important for the boss to take personal blame. Then behind closed doors work with the employee.
This goes against instinct. Bosses lookout for themselves too and taking blame all the time can make you look bad. But it’s part of the job and a way to keep your team together and working toward the betterment of the business.
Part of making things efficient is working to systematize things. Employees often push back on this a bit. They worry that if something gets more efficient that they won’t be needed anymore.
As the boss, you have to let them know that their talents are needed in all kinds of ways. By making things more efficient you can offer new opportunity.
Build it into your business to always look for more efficient ways to do things.
10. “Do As I Do”
Parents are guilty of this. Bosses are too. I’m probably guilty of it in business too.
You’ve heard the saying: Do as I say, not as I do…
But that saying does little to nothing. Humans watch and learn.
Children mimic everything by nature.
It’s how they learn. It’s how we’re wired to learn.
As the boss, you have to live by and set the highest standard for everything.
If you’re reading this article then it’s a sign that you want to be a great boss. And that’s a great thing. There are many great bosses in the world, but we can always use more.
Hopefully the tips and insight above can help you become the best boss you can be.