Most people mulling small business ideas has thought about what kind of boss they want to be. Most of us have had both friendly bosses and more formal ones, and both can be remarkably effective. Whether friendly or aloof, outstanding bosses demonstrate leadership. They’re not about using rewards and punishments to get things done, but about motivating and inspiring their team. These key leadership traits can work with just about any type of personality.
Many entrepreneurs looking for business advice about how to be an effective boss turn to leadership coaching to develop their communication style. Even if you don’t have any employees yet, you might in the near future, so it helps to know what makes a bad boss and what makes a good boss.
What Bad Bosses Do
Bad bosses “motivate” by intimidation or manipulation, and demand respect rather than earning it. Another characteristic of bad bosses is a tendency to micromanage. Even good bosses may be guilty of doing this occasionally, but they recognize it and stop themselves before damaging morale.
Another breed of bad boss is the “know-it-all,” who probably complains about “employees today” and how they fall short. Unrealistic bosses promise their bosses the world and expect their team to deliver, no matter how challenging. While it is true that challenges can reinvigorate a team, but the deadline has to be realistic to do so.
What Good Bosses Do
Good bosses can be people you’d love to have a drink with after work, or they may be someone you can’t imagine interacting with on a social level. What great bosses have in common is their level of support and recognition.
- Does your boss have your back in a difficult situation?
- Does she support your career goals?
- Does he give credit where credit is due rather than taking it himself?
The bosses people want to work for are ones that develop trust, encourage employee growth, and show genuine interest in both the work and employee well-being. In other words, being a great boss isn’t about having the right type of personality, but about practicing the right leadership skills day in and day out.
Caring Takes Many Forms
This is not to say that great bosses never use “tough love.” While great bosses don’t blow up at the slightest provocation, they aren’t afraid to invoke disciplinary measures when they are warranted. The best military leaders understand this, and they know how to instill a sense of putting the mission first, then the team, then the individual. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, the truly caring boss finds out why and makes a workable, sensible plan to address the problem.
Being a Great Boss Takes Practice
Outstanding bosses must have good ideas, confidence, and the ability to make on-the-spot decisions when necessary. They must also learn (often the hard way) how to rebound after a big mistake. All these characteristics require practice. It’s like physical training: you become stronger by working those leadership “muscles” and learning from your mistakes. Sure, some people have more innate leadership capability than others, but even those blessed with good leadership skills must practice them to be the best possible leader.
Boosting Employee Engagement
Sometimes being a terrific boss requires stepping outside the normal routine. Teams can become complacent. Occasionally it’s beneficial to shake things up a bit. This can be accomplished in any number of ways.
- The non-work social activity, like an annual holiday dinner, doesn’t cost much, nor does encouraging employees to donate a certain number of hours per year to charity work.
- Celebrating achievements and milestones doesn’t have to be costly because acknowledgment and appreciation of great work inspires additional great work.
- The occasional off-site retreat can be wonderfully re-invigorating too.
Being a terrific boss is about being a leader. Leaders are accessible, fair, committed to the mission, and consider multiple perspectives when making decisions. Some great leaders are teddy-bear friendly, while others are more formal. If you’ve been in the workforce long enough, you’ve encountered both types. The best bosses demonstrate leadership and elevate everyone around them. In other words, they set and maintain conditions for everyone on the team to shine and demonstrate their unique brilliance. There also aren’t afraid to get into the trenches with everyone when the situation demands it.
Interested in boosting your leadership qualities? Why not consider joining us for the 4th Annual Reinvention Weekend this October? It’s for the small business owner with passion and a commitment to excellence. It includes an exclusive selection of experts that I’ve specially chosen for the event. We would love to see you there and help you to be the kind of boss you should be