Long gone are the days when dictatorial management delivers top-notch results. Sure, CEOs want leaders who boost the bottom line, but they also want mentors who develop the next generation of leaders by showing employees how it's done. Employees, on the other hand, want a player's coach, someone who understands them as a person and creates an environment in which to thrive. Is a combo of the two possible? You betcha!
According to Jim Collins in his best-selling book, Good to Great, the most effective bosses fall into the category of "Level Five Leaders". These managers recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses, hire/place employees in roles where they shine, and set really high (and achievable) long-term goals that employees believe in. The key to success for these leaders? They inspire employees to willingly and passionately do more with less, which makes CFOs downright giddy. Here are seven characteristics that make bosses great to both management and employees:
1. Great bosses understand corporate goals and skillfully explain them to their teams – “this is why we're here, this is what we need to do and this is how we're going to do it.” Setting a clear vision and informing employees that they will be held accountable for the task at hand sets expectations everyone can rally around. It also helps employees keep each other accountable.
2. Great bosses listen more than they talk. Leaders who employ Stephen Covey's mantra "seek first to understand before being understood," will always serve their employer and employees better than know-it-alls. The best ideas to improve efficiency or enhance products often come from line employees. Bosses who listen, listen, listen are the ones who can move great ideas through the pipeline quickly.
3. Great bosses take an interest in each employee as an individual. They get to know the person and his or her personal life. They spend time understanding employee career goals and guide them on a path to get there. They remember birthdays and anniversaries and they ask, "How'd your son do in his Little League game last night?"
4. Great bosses hold employees accountable. When goals aren't met or deadlines are missed, the issues are addressed immediately to find out the whys. Inspired bosses always look for ways to improve and move forward, rather than punishing in the moment. They also move quickly to dismiss under-performing employees, which always makes management happy. Staff members are thrilled, too, with quick assessment and action, because they usually recognize poor performance before managers do.
5. Great bosses don't seek personal accolades. They never take credit for the work of the team and are always looking for ways to recognize and reward their staffs. They write hand-written thank you notes and recognize superior efforts with tickets to the ball game or an afternoon off.
6. Great bosses manage individuals based on strengths rather than weaknesses. Collins calls this "putting the right people in the right seats on the bus." Having people do what they do best always enhances productivity and efficiency. Too many managers spend months trying to shoehorn people into roles they're not prepared for or skilled in, rather than finding someone with the right skill set for the task. Managing to strength is a win-win for the company, the boss and the employee.
7. Great bosses hire people who are better than them in the areas where they don't perform well. Bosses who are good with strategy and not execution are always better served in surrounding themselves with doers, and vice versa. They also go out of their way to acknowledge their deficiencies rather than cover them up: "I wouldn't be successful without your contributions."
If you have leaders in your company who exhibit these traits, consider yourself extremely lucky! And go out of your way today, National Boss’s Day, to let them know how much you appreciate them.