How to Be a Great Boss

Most of us want to be great bosses.

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 who were just too darn busy doing their own work to make time for us.

In our zeal to be better bosses, we read leadership books, attend seminars and conferences, watch TED talks and follow the latest gurus/influencers 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.

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.

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 groups are made up of different personality types.

As business leaders, we know that the key to satisfying our 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 be of service to 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.

What do YOU need from me?