I’ve been fortunate in my career to have bosses I actually wanted to celebrate, so I have positive associations with this day. While there’s plenty of time to talk boss horror stories, especially as we get closer to Halloween, today I want to reflect on what makes a great boss and how we can apply these traits to ourselves as we move up the ladder.
Whether you’re looking to start a business, already have a few employees, are interviewing a company, or have a management role, it’s critical to know what makes for a good boss.
If you’re interviewing, you want to get a sense that you’ll be working for someone you like and respect. If you’re the boss, you want to know that your employees trust and value you, rather than muttering about you in the break room. If you’re on your way up, you want to know which traits to emulate and which to weed out.
When push comes to shove, there are three major traits that separate the good bosses from the bad.
In an article for the Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham profiles a new working-paper from Canadian and Korean economists. Their research suggests that bosses may have a larger role in employees’ lives than we thought. When an immediate supervisor serves as a “partner-boss” rather than a demanding, distant “boss-boss,” employees are far more satisfied in their lives. Partner-bosses have the ability to foster a sense of community and team building that adds not only to the company, but to the lives employees live after work.
In Daring to Lead, researcher, speaker, and author Dr. Brené Brown shares her most recent work regarding leadership and vulnerability. According to Dr. Brown, good leaders have to be “daring” rather than “armored.” Instead of focusing on“being right,” good leaders focus on being curious, and “wanting to get it right.” Good leaders create an office culture based on shared commitment and purpose, rather than designating tasks and punishing from a position of power. Check out Dr. Brown’s article on LinkedIn® to preview more from Daring to Lead.
The adage “You should treat the janitor with the same respect you’d show the CEO” is an adage for a reason. If you’re in a position of power, you don’t generate respect by remaining aloof and remote, or disrespecting those beneath you. Instead, you achieve respect by knowing and respecting your employees or the people on your team.
In the busyness of everyday life, it’s easy to walk past someone without acknowledging them—especially if you feel like their job doesn’t intersect with yours. But when you think about it, every member of the office impacts how the team functions.
If your office is dirty, it’s going to hamper your concentration (and offend your nose).
If the members of the social media team don’t have clear direction, then it won’t matter how brilliant your marketing campaign or content is… your pages are going to look like a mess.
If you’re in charge, get to know everyone on your team. Know their names, their interests, and their larger career goals. Encourage their passions, give them opportunities to rise, and know that your ability to take the long-view of their employment trajectory will yield rewards for your team in the short-term.
Look no further than Captain Michael Abrashoff’s book, It’s Your Ship. In this memoir, Abrashoff chronicles his time commanding the USS Benhold, showing real-world examples of how he was able to take that ship from being one of the worst to one of the best.
This is one of my favorite leadership titles, because I love the way Abrashoff focuses on listening to his subordinates, recognizing and using talent, and creating a place where everyone takes ownership and pride in their workplace.
On this Boss’s Day, whether you’re being celebrated or hope to be celebrated one day, decide to be the type of leader who invests in and inspires their colleagues.
Story by Zaneta Padilla
**Title Image created by John Lester, permission for use by Creative Commons. No changes were made to this image.