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10 Things Only People Who Have A Good Boss Would Understand

10 Things Only People Who Have A Good Boss Would Understand

The people we work with on a daily basis have a tremendous influence on our productivity and satisfaction. More than any other person, your boss shapes your daily experience. For example, your company may boost of family friendly policies but it is ultimately your boss who can approve your flexible schedule.

Our culture is filled with examples of bad bosses – Dilbert cartoons, Bill Lumbergh from the classic movie “Office Space” and the bluntly named 2011 film, “Horrible Bosses.” Our obsession with the effects of bad bosses means excellent managers and leaders truly have the chance to shine. If you have a great boss, you’ll be nodding and smiling as you read this article.

1. Communication is strong and positive

The quality and quantity of communication you have with a good boss is fundamental. A good boss knows how to run a meeting, communicates bad news in a professional manner and provides regular feedback to all staff. When you have a good boss, you are never left wondering about their plans or when the product is due for a launch. From time to time, the boss may have keep certain information confidential but good bosses seek to minimize secrets as much as possible.

2. Good bosses encourage people to grow their skills and leadership

The drive for learning, mastery and growth are important drives for knowledge workers. A good boss regularly looks for ways to help their staff grow with a variety of methods. They may ask their staff to undertake highly challenging work. A good boss may ask a junior person to present to senior management so they can develop their management skills.

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A good boss is never threatened by the growth and capabilities of their team. For example, George Washington’s first administration included John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, men who would go on to become President themselves. Managing a team of star performers is challenging but good bosses are up for the challenge.

3. Good bosses have low staff turnover

According to Gallup researchers, the performance and support provided by one’s immediate supervisor is the top predictor of staff turnover. Support includes providing staff with the right equipment to get the job done and advice on how to solve challenging problems. If you look around your department and see that most people stay in the department year after year, then you are probably blessed with a good boss. In contrast, a bad boss never takes responsibility for high staff turnover rates.

Keeping staff turnover low isn’t simply good for morale – it also saves money. Gallup reports: “It’s generally estimated that replacing an employee costs a business one-half to five times that employee’s annual salary.”

4. Good bosses are pro-change

A good loss takes an active role in shaping change. Rather than obsessively seeking to preserve the status quo, a good boss understands that change is a reality. They are optimistic about change and look for new opportunities to serve more customers, improve productivity and increase quality. After all, the business world is constantly changing so a good boss needs

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Good bosses embrace change by seeking input from their staff. For example, a good boss at a bank will look at a development like Apple Pay and look for ways to change. They may ask their software developers to improve the bank’s mobile app or ask their customer service team to study Apple’s product and come up with recommendations. In any case, good bosses embrace change and look for ways to grow.

Tip: Learn How to Lead Change in Your Organization: sooner or later, everyone has to develop the capacity to handle change.

5. You enjoy a gossip free workplace

Gossip eats away at teamwork, job satisfaction and productivity. That’s why good bosses do not tolerate this kind of behavior (in fact, you never hear them gossiping!). Instead, an effective manager encourages you to speak directly with the person and seek a solution. Otherwise, the problem or controversy that triggered the gossip will only get worse. Good bosses are proactive in preventing gossip because gossip is associated with workplace bullying according to the Kansas City Star.

Tip: How To Stop Negative Gossip In Office.

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6. Good bosses welcome questions

Making a success in the business world is tough. That’s why good bosses are open to questions from their staff. After all, if you are confused or unclear on how to complete work, the whole organization will suffer. Michael Hyatt, best selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, offers suggestions for asking more powerful questions. Bringing excellent questions to the table marks you as a top performer.

7. Good bosses attract talented people

A good boss’s reputation spreads quickly. Of course, money matters in career decisions yet it is not the only motivation to consider. A good boss attracts outstanding job applicants. With so many negative or ineffective managers in the world, working for a good boss is a major attraction. You can observe this principle in action in large organizations where people are enthused about joining your department.

8. Good bosses handle problems professionally

Disappointments and problems are a reality in the modern workplace. A good boss resists the urge to scream and panic. Instead, they follow a problem solving strategy to respond to the situation. For example, if a supplier is late with a shipment, a good boss will ask for your opinion and help you to come up with new ideas. In contrast, a bad boss is likely to become irrational and angry in that situation.

Not sure what kind of boss you have? Think about the last few times you made mistakes at work – how did your boss react? If you encounter screaming and tremble in fear, it may be time to search for a new job.

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9. Cooperation is encouraged (not cut throat competition)

Some companies and departments are driven by fierce competition. People are so busy meeting deadlines and making sales quotas that they have no time to help others. Even worse, there are some organizations where competition is highly prized that people sabotage others. Good bosses promote and understand the value of cooperation. They lead creative brainstorming sessions and set goals for the entire team. By setting this cooperative tone, a good boss makes it easy to ask for help and support.

10. Staff are excited by the goals of the organization

Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That’s an exciting mission! When your boss provides clear and exciting goals, it is much easier to get through long days of struggle and frustration. Even if the top leadership of the organization has unexciting goals, a good boss can still create excitement by creating new goals.

Featured photo credit: Darth Grader/JD Hancock via flickr.com

More by this author

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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