Boss’s Day is generally observed on or around October 16 in North America. This year that will make Monday, October 17th the Day of the Boss.
Over the last few years, Boss’s Day has become popular, not only in the United States and Canada but throughout the world. Oddly, the other countries who have latched on to this notion are Lithuania, Romania, Australia, India, and South Africa. Who knew?
Why Boss’s Day?
Boss’s Day started out as a day set aside for employees to thank their bosses for their ongoing support. The goal is to reinforce the bond between employer and employee. IMHO, the real benefit to celebrating Boss’s Day is using the day to focus on what can take a “Good” Boss” to the next level and become a “Great Boss”. The day can be an opportunity for a look at a checklist of attributes for BOTH employees and their respective bosses. So in other words, let’s examine what a “Good Boss” looks and feels like and how to kick it up a notch.
How does a boss know if they are a good boss and, more importantly, a good leader of people? The reality is that the two roles aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. Most of the best bosses utilize traditional leadership skills in performing their role. Hopefully, this blog can act as an outline for how the best bosses can maintain their Good to Great standing.
“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads and the boss drives.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Bosses – Show the Love
It is a well-documented fact that when employees feel appreciated and valued they are their most effective, successful and happiest. When an employee feels recognition, is given praise, and gratitude is shown for their contributions, these simple gestures are known to carry significantly more value to the employee than their salary alone.
We have all heard that “people don’t quit their job, they quit their bosses”. On the flipside of this, do we ever consider how many managers may not be the recipient of a word of admiration, acknowledgment or thanks from their own people? Maybe October 17th will bring that effort to the forefront of the day. After all, isn’t recognition and appreciation a two-way street? Would a kind word or showing some admiration for your boss motivate and support them to evolve from a “Good” boss to a “Great” boss?
“It is easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.” —W. Somerset Maugham
The Role of the Boss
Being a boss is hard. Not all people long for one, aspire to be one or respect the fact that it can be a very uncomfortable place to be on numerous occasions. Having said that, it seems that most people will naturally follow a good leader and most organizations live and die on the quality of the leaders who run them.
In the words of The Boss, Bruce Springsteen “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.”
Good bosses know that they don’t know everything. Great bosses are excited to learn from their team.
Traits of the Best Bosses
An organization’s ability to succeed is driven thought it’s people. The people on the front line and the people who are leading the charge. In no particular order let’s look at what are some of the skills and traits of the best bosses.
The Best Bosses either innately or through experience perform a number of good acts. Sometimes good bosses have had a great boss themself so their observation of a role model has contributed to their status in the good column. Regardless of whether training or nature, it is through the practice in the art of people management that makes a boss who they are.
Let’s consider the following traits.
Strong Communication Skills
- Clearly articulates team goals, objectives and set expectations by defining the outcomes NOT micromanaging the steps.
- Provides fair, relevant and honest feedback – frequently and authentically.
- Verbalizes appreciation, shows recognition, and praise for the efforts of their people.
- Practices open, truthful and transparent communication that demonstrates honesty as their top priority.
- Strives to find kind ways to bring uncomfortable information to the surface.
- When individuals could have done better, they tell them in private.
Leadership by Example
- Models high ethical standards and ensures that company policies, procedures, and practices reflect those standards
- Holds themselves and others accountable When they win, they sing everyone’s praises. If they lose, they take the heat. They own it.
- Stays cool in a crisis and keeps in touch with reality
- Not afraid of empowering others. Able to delegate and coach from the sidelines.
- Not afraid to get their hands dirty and can drop the ego about what might be considered menial tasks
- Promotes and encourages work-life balance
“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” –Peter F. Drucker
Effective and Active Listener
- Invites questions and participates in effective two-way communication.
- Non-judgmental, fair, respectful, empathetic, compassionate, sensitive to the feelings of others.
- Approachable on a personal level and make employees feel heard, valued and understood.
- Makes an effort to know employees as individuals and understands they have ups and downs and everyone works differently.
- Understands the dynamics of people, stress, and the blend of work, life and friendship.
- Listens and looks for each person’s unique talents.
- Focuses on strengths, not on weaknesses.
- Encourages growth and career progression.
- Generates viable opportunities – either vertical or horizontal.
- Supports training based on the right fit and not just the next rung on the ladder.
- Coaches from the sidelines using a balance of control – that fine line between being over-controlling and under-controlling.
- Invites creative thinking, creates an environment where people are empowered to make a change on their own to improve product, process, and procedures.
Create an Environment of Trust
- Builds an internal culture of trust – by design rather than default – so people feel safe on their team and with their boss.
- Practices good work ethics
- Gives permission, to tell the truth, even when it isn’t pleasant. Makes clear that it is absolutely required and safe to do so.
- Treats people fairly and prove that mistakes are a part of learning.
- Provides facilitation, collaboration sessions, demonstrates how to reach consensus.
- Encourages and fosters a sense of community, making room for everyone.
The Greatest Bosses of all have mastered how to “manage up” and how to “manage sideways, too. It’s my opinion that as a people manager, it was my job to clear the road so my people could be the best they could be, to win all the awards they won and to be respected by everyone up and down the chain of command.
A final note – Employees appreciate a boss with a sense of humor and a boss who is not afraid to be human and humble. This means a boss who knows them self pretty well and is comfortable in their own skin. A boss who treats others with the same respect they expect i return – no more, no less.
A great boss creates an environment based on integrity, trust, respect – and one that encourages feedback, innovation, and creativity. Employees in this kind of an atmosphere will always flourish.
A few years ago I ran into one of my former employees who shared the nicest compliment I have ever received. She told me that when we worked together, none of our team had any idea how much I had protected them from the politics and internal struggles in the company. After I had left, she and her peers were shocked when ‘reality’ presented itself. My team had always been the majority of the President Club winners and she said they learned that keeping their path clear was one of the contributing factors to their success. It was good to hear her appreciation and understanding of what I had been able to do for the team – removing barriers, fighting for projects, increasing headcount, and support with other resources.
It is true that some bosses have a natural flair for leadership, motivating and inspiring others. Having said that, a great boss can also be developed with coaching, mentorship and training when they have good instincts and an open mind. Greatness needs to be maintained and that can be kept up by attending management classes and seminars, reading books, and doing a lot of self-assessment. It is only possible to stay great by working at and massaging the craft. I am eternally grateful for the good and bad bosses I’ve had over the years. Both good and bad taught me the difference and gave me the opportunity to develop my own style.
Hope Boss’s Day proves to be good for you and your boss on Monday, October 17th!
“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” -Tina Fey