We’ve all had bad bosses. Supervisors that were rude, arrogant, overly demanding, insecure or dismissive.
Leaders who were phoning it in, directors who were nice, but ineffectual, and managers that were just too busy doing their own work to make time for us.
In our zeal to be better bosses, we read leadership books, go to conferences and seminars, watch TED talks and follow the latest gurus on social media.
But, deep down, it feels like we’re not quite there yet.
Some people respond to our management style.
These people typically become our favourites and we spend the majority of our time working with them. Coaching them. Encouraging them. Rewarding them.
Others do not respond to our style.
Some don’t even seem to like us. Eventually, we find ourselves spending less and less time with these individuals… avoiding interaction and just hoping they’ll get their job done without us.
We hear them out if they come with an issue or concern, but otherwise, they don’t get much of our attention.
Does this sound familiar?
Over time, we find ourselves hiring more of the former group – and less of the latter. We convince ourselves that the most effective team is a team made up of people who respond well to our leadership style.
Armed with that insight, we invest time and money (our own and the company’s) in perfecting that style.
This is where most of us get to in our leadership journey.
We become very effective at leading certain types of people.
But a great boss is not someone who can motivate certain types of people.
A great boss is someone who can motivate and work effectively with… almost anyone.
To be a truly great boss… we need to shift our thinking.
First… we need to stop focusing on our leadership style – and what we’re bringing to the mix.
Instead… we need to re-focus on the specific, individual requirements of our employees. And how we, as the boss, can meet those specific, individual needs.
We don’t lead a group. We lead a group of individuals. And most truly effective groups are made up of different personality types.
As business leaders, we’ve already learned that the key to satisfying customers is to figure out what their specific needs are… and then apply ingenuity and diligence to meeting and exceeding those needs.
So… why aren’t we taking that same approach with our employees?
Because we tend to think of our employees as being there to serve us. When, in fact, we are there to serve them.
Yes, we may chart the course and lead the charge. But we also support, coach, develop and inspire. We guide, direct, focus, problem-solve and clear roadblocks that are preventing our team from being as effective as they could be.
So, what does it take to win the hearts and minds of a group of individuals?
The first step to being a truly great boss starts with one simple question.
Do you pride yourself on your high standards for everything? If so, you’re not alone. Most high-achievers strive for perfection.
But what if inflexible standards are slowing you down and holding you back?
(Not sure if you’re a perfectionist? Try taking this test.)
Obsessive perfectionism can get in the way of a happy and productive life. I know that my own obsessively high standards took their toll for many years. Relentless striving, low satisfaction, sleepless nights obsessing over perceived gaffes – and a long list of unfinished projects and initiatives that I was “still massaging”.
Perfectionism is a big factor in procrastination, low productivity, poor self-esteem and even depression. It keeps you stuck in your comfort zone – afraid of trying new things, for fear of looking bad or making mistakes.
The first step to overcoming perfectionism is to recognize when high standards are necessary – and when they’re actually getting in the way of innovation, efficiency and fulfillment. Getting to a place of “good enough” on most tasks and projects allows you to get more done without compromising quality.
In fact, taking a more open-minded approach can pave the way for greater creativity, innovation and fun.
Freedom from perfection requires flexibility and a large dose of self-compassion. This is a struggle for many of us. It starts with embracing the belief that you are good enough, even with the occasional misstep. And that everything, including yourself, is a work in progress.
The next time you notice that you’re driving yourself too hard, procrastinating on projects or tasks, or feeling self-critical about your accomplishments, ask yourself:
“Am I holding myself to standards that aren’t needed in these circumstances?”
“What would good enough look and feel like?”
Take a deep breath. Open your heart to self-compassion. Think flexibly about your project or task and let your inner critic relax. Try a “good enough” approach for your day-to-day tasks and reserve the sky-high standards for rare and special circumstances.
Not only will you get more done, you’ll also feel better about what you do accomplish.
I just read online that today is World Social Media Day. (Isn’t that every day?)
Here in Canada, it’s also the start of the Canada Day long weekend.
It’s easy to look at social media (especially on long weekends) and think other people are having more fun, cooler vacations, more romantic relationships, have better jobs, better bodies, better kids, better lives.
On #socialmediaday, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that FB, Instagram, Linked-In, etc. are the highlights reel. Not the full story.
Happy Pride, Happy Canada Day and happy long weekend to all my friends, colleagues and clients. Here’s to a perfectly imperfect summer! xo