This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.
In Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace study, 70 per cent of workers admitted they neither enjoyed their boss nor were engaged in their work.
These two statistics are related. If you’re a boss who isolates, is disconnected emotionally and has poor leadership or delegation skills, your employees will feel disengaged and unfocused.
But with some effort, you can be the boss who bucks the statistics, the one people love to work for, want to please and look to for inspiration. Here are seven tactics to try on your quest to be the world’s best boss.
Give your people the freedom to fail.
A good boss lets his or her people know that occasional failure is an inevitable outcome of trying to succeed. After all, as the old adage says, “No risk, no reward.” Encourage employees to speak up when they make a mistake and reassure them when they do by asking what they learned and what they might do differently next time. Admit your own mistakes; show your workers how you corrected those mistakes and how they made you smarter as a result.
Delegate more, micromanage less.
To earn your employees’ loyalty, you have to believe in their abilities. Give excellent employees a long leash. Challenge them to take on leadership roles. Compliment them on excellent output, and once an employee’s work is consistently excellent, give him even more freedom to excel and make decisions on his own.
Master your public speaking skills.
Be clear and to-the-point when you present to your team or give instructions to an individual. Help workers understand the bigger purpose of this task or project. Never underestimate the value of charisma. Be dynamic and enthusiastic. Use examples and stories to make your points memorable. When you speak, people will know you’re not going to waste their time.
Be authoritative, not wishy-washy.
No one likes – or respects – a waffler. In fact, people would rather follow a leader who makes clear-cut decisions, even if they disagree with some of those decisions, than a boss who tries to please everyone and ends up getting nothing accomplished. Employees want to know what you stand for so they can decide the best way to support you.
Listen well and ask good questions.
Cultivate excellent listening skills. Realize that people love to talk about themselves. If you’re a superb listener, employees will see you as a smart and empathetic boss. Ask questions about your workers to show them that you’re interested in their life and opinions. You may even learn something valuable about your own company.
Be thoughtful and circumspect.
Develop a reputation for reasonableness. Look for compromises when confronted with strong opposing opinions. Don’t be the boss who grimaces and blurts out a negative judgment when an employee says or does something you disapprove of. Instead, learn to have a poker face and keep your mouth closed. When a conflict arises among the ranks, try to listen to all sides before commenting or making a recommendation. If employees view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they will be more loyal both to you and to each other. Work to instill a culture of respect.
Take a stand; have a vision.
Most employees don’t just want a job. They’re looking for fulfillment. It’s your role to help them see how their work at your company is making a difference or serving an important need. Share your passion for the company’s mission with your employees. Articulate your goals, values, and visions, and help workers see that they play a critical role in the company and its purpose.
Always remember that leadership is a privilege. Leaders can’t lead effectively unless their employees co-operate. Think of yourself as a coach rather than the ultimate decision maker. To be the boss people love to work for, you have to earn their co-operation.
Vicky Oliver (@vickyoliver) is a Manhattan-based job interview consultant and career adviser, and the bestselling author of five career development books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.
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