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Saleswise Blog

September 2013

11 Things Good Bosses Believe

Sep 19, 2013 10:08 AM
Nicki Weiss

What makes a boss great? I’ve been thinking about that issue for awhile, and talking with teams and their leaders to gain more understanding. Then I read an article by Dr. Robert I. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.

I’ve combined the best of Sutton’s ideas with my observations into a list of 11 key beliefs that the best bosses hold and the worst bosses reject, or more often, never consider.

The bottom line? All the technique and behavioural coaching in the world won't make a boss great if that boss doesn't also possess a certain mindset.

Here’s the list:

I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
 
How I do things is as important as what I do.
 
My success – and that of my people – depends largely on being the master of obvious     and mundane processes, not on magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods.
 
Setting ambitious and well-defined goals for my people is important, but I need to focus on the small wins they achieve every day to assess their progress.
 
One of the most important, and most difficult, parts of my job is to strike the delicate balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough.
 
My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe. That idiocy also includes my own.
 
I strive to be confident enough to convince people that I am in charge, but humble enough to realize that I am often wrong.
 
One of the best tests of my leadership — and my organization — is the answer to "what happens after people make a mistake?"
 
Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. My job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off the bad ideas, and many of the good ones, too. Sometimes good objects aren’t aligned well with what we’re trying to do. And sometimes there are just too many good ideas to be able to implement well.
 
Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk, and not realizing when I cross the line. 
 
My job is to pay attention to, and continuously elevate, the culture of my team. I need to keep asking questions such as: Is our culture all about ‘me’ or ‘we’?  Do team members have each others’ backs?  Does my team work collaboratively or as lone rangers?  I regularly take time with my team to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and how to fix any problems.

Talk Back: If you're like most people I meet, you've had your share of bad bosses — and probably at least one good one. What were the attitudes the good ones held? And what workplace-transforming beliefs could your worst boss never embrace?  Email me your thoughts at 

What makes a boss great? I’ve been thinking about that issue for awhile, and talking with teams and their leaders to gain more understanding. Then I read an article by Dr. Robert I. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.

I’ve combined the best of Sutton’s ideas with my observations into a list of 11 key beliefs that the best bosses hold and the worst bosses reject, or more often, never consider.

The bottom line? All the technique and behavioural coaching in the world won't make a boss great if that boss doesn't also possess a certain mindset.

Here’s the list:

I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
 
How I do things is as important as what I do.
 
My success – and that of my people – depends largely on being the master of obvious     and mundane processes, not on magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods.
 
Setting ambitious and well-defined goals for my people is important, but I need to focus on the small wins they achieve every day to assess their progress.
 
One of the most important, and most difficult, parts of my job is to strike the delicate balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough.
 
My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe. That idiocy also includes my own.
 
I strive to be confident enough to convince people that I am in charge, but humble enough to realize that I am often wrong.
 
One of the best tests of my leadership — and my organization — is the answer to "what happens after people make a mistake?"
 
Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. My job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off the bad ideas, and many of the good ones, too. Sometimes good objects aren’t aligned well with what we’re trying to do. And sometimes there are just too many good ideas to be able to implement well.
 
Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk, and not realizing when I cross the line. 
 
My job is to pay attention to, and continuously elevate, the culture of my team. I need to keep asking questions such as: Is our culture all about ‘me’ or ‘we’?  Do team members have each others’ backs?  Does my team work collaboratively or as lone rangers?  I regularly take time with my team to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and how to fix any problems.

Talk Back: If you're like most people I meet, you've had your share of bad bosses — and probably at least one good one. What were the attitudes the good ones held? And what workplace-transforming beliefs could your worst boss never embrace?  Email me your thoughts at nicki@saleswise.ca. Better yet, give me a call at 416-778-4145 if you want to discuss how you can become a better boss.

   Better yet, give me a call at 416-778-4145 if you want to discuss how you can become a better boss.

Managing Teams, Leadership  


1 Comment
  

  Mar 10, 2015 09:44AM
Matthew
www.myemployees.com
Great post, Nicki. We've all had bosses that we loved and boss we didn't. One thing that makes me remember the positive ones was the way they connected with me and made me feel like they really had my best interest at heart, both in and out of the office. A great leader finds ways to tune in to their people's needs, wants, and desires, and ultimately helps them achieve personal and professional goals. At our company, we have a weekly book club where we go through books on personal de...

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