I love Steve Tobak’s blog “The corner office” on BNET. He keeps things short and to the point, easy to follow and he explains his point of view rather well. So I was reading this particular post “10 Things Great Managers Do” and got thinking about all my past managers, specially the one’s I tend to think of as my best bosses and how they had behaved on these particular points and surprisingly there’s a very strong correlation on what they did and whether I rated them as great bosses 🙂
Here’s my take on the points that Steve made… would be interesting to see how other’s think…
1. Maintain your cool and sense of humor, especially during a crisis.
This is probably a trait that anyone would admire in their boss. I mean nobody actually likes having a boss who gets flustered and starts yelling at the first sign of a crisis. Right?
2. Tell subordinates when they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
I am particularly grateful to the bosses who took me apart and read me the riot act or more gently pointed out my follies. For example, one of the first advice I received was that I am too emotional for the work place, mind you, this was more than a decade ago, so I was still a newbie and I definitely needed that advice.
3. Be the boss, but behave like a peer.
People loves bosses who can come down to their level and behave like peers. It allows subordinates to connect to the boss, share information/opinion/ideas more openly. I have even had a couple of bosses who teamed up to play pranks on unsuspecting colleagues on occasions like April Fool’s day. Far from lessening their authority, it made them seem more human.
4. Let your guard down and really be yourself outside of work.
Very difficult, specially when you are busy running from work to home and keeping a family life afloat with all the work-life balance that we are all trying to achieve, but those who work on it earn extra brownie points.
5. Stand behind and make big bets on people you believe in.
This one never fails to amaze me – bosses who stand behind their people and support and defend them, earn their employees loyalty. People who believe in their bosses have a higher than usual tendency to take more risks, responsibility for their actions and will go the extra mile every time to ensure completion of milestones.
6. Complement your subordinate’s weaknesses.
Very difficult to do but very effective. I respect the bosses who knew my weaknesses and held me accountable to the point that they forced me to grow and eliminate them.
7. Compliment your employee’s strengths.
I know when I look forward to getting a “Good Job” pat in the back and how many times I have been disappointed and how that disappointment had even been demoralizing sometimes. Appreciation is a universal thing – everyone wants it and everyone needs it. Great managers realize it and are generous in providing it, but they are very good at balancing it out with the previous point – knowing the weakness and forcing the employee to work on that too.
8. Teach the toughest, most painful lessons you’ve ever learned.
No body likes to admit that they have made mistakes too but this is one of the biggest lessons that a manager can share with his/her team, on an individual basis. Knowing that the big guy/gal had made a mistake and still transcended it to get up the ladder can be quite a boost in morale and it can be very surprisingly motivating.
9. Do the right thing.
EVERY TIME – no matter what. Say it, live it, preach it, support it. I had a boss who used to come around every day and ask his subordinates – what did you do today to add value to the company and yourself? It got to the point that every day that I came in to work, I asked myself the same thing. I probably did more training, improvement, process streamlining during that period than at any other time.
10. Do what has to be done, no matter what.
How do great managers become … well … great? by doing exactly this “do what has to be done, no matter what”. The focus is on the end goal but not to the exclusion of “Do the Right Thing”.