There are bosses and then there are bosses. You know, they’re the leaders who bring out the best in their team members and can elicit enthusiasm even on the most routine project. How do they do that? What sets them apart from the normal everyday bosses and how can we learn from them to be better ourselves?
Today, we delve into the top traits that make successful bosses so remarkable:
- Ability to listen
- Being consistent and communicative
- Champion your team and be respectful
Ability to Listen
Listening is an essential but often overlooked skill. It entails asking the right questions and paying attention to the responses while showing appreciation for the time and sincerity of opinions shared. Feedback from both peers and direct reports helps bring about an ongoing understanding to help everyone flourish for the good of the project and company. Balancing one’s perception of day-to-day interactions with one-on-one meetings with team members brings about a strong awareness and understanding about the team’s dynamic and member’s individual goals.
L.A. Smith, Director of Online Marketing, Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, states that “No single communication tool is more important to a good leader than the ability and willingness to be still and listen to the people who work for you and to your peers, especially the ones who disagree with you.”
Opening up your team to group and individual discussions creates a balanced sense of trust for the flow of ideas. Any time you are with another person, there is the opportunity to listen and learn. Maintain an open mind and use active listening skills to identify key elements of the message.
Avoid forming your response while listening because it deters from the recipient’s message. When you do devise your response, be constructive, consistent, and confirm you understand what has been said without sounding like a court reporter reading back a transcript.
Being consistent and communicative
Set your path and follow it, your team will fall in as well once they see the consistent and well-considered approach you take is the best for productivity. Having a steadfast attitude goes a long way to conveying your leadership with reliable planning, organizing, management, and communications. Be conscious of clearly defined and consistently backed role definition.
Dave Davies, CEO, Beanstalk Internet Marketing, Inc. encourages creative thinking within his team by forging a dynamic environment. “I work to foster an environment where there are no bad questions and nothing that isn’t worth chatting about. At the end of the day I have to make the final decisions on what’s to be done, but I’ve found that if I set a task and leave my staff to do it well, they often come up with techniques and strategies that I never would have, which gives me an opportunity to learn as well.
The communication element is especially vital because, depending on the size and structure of the team, you could be exchanging ideas and updates with dozens of people around the world. Assuming that communication will just happen is a mistake as these need to have a clearly defined goal, plan, and awareness of the recipient’s perspective.
Champion your team and be respectful
Leading a team toward a goal is part of the job, the other part is being their champion. Encouraging team members to pursue personal growth and continual learning shows an investment that goes beyond squeezing an extra few hours out of their week. Investing in them as much as they invest in the work goes a long way to showing respect and appreciation. Recognizing individual and collective strengths and ideas is a sign that the team is stronger for all members, not just the boss.
Robert K. Williams, President, Capitol Ideas, Inc., shares his approach to being a leader and encouraging your team. “You have to ensure that everyone who is working for you knows that he or she is respected, and that he or she matters. A good team leader should avoid keeping his or her distance from the team. I have found that people produce far better work and tend to be much happier in the process when they feel as though their team leader is working hand in hand with them to achieve their collective goals.”
Respecting time and resources is essential as well. Follow agendas and avoid unnecessary meetings so team members are not forced to work late to complete their work. Plan ahead for requests and expect other teams to do the same when submitting requests to your team. The leader of a teamshields the team from unnecessary company bureaucracy while creating a creative and collaborative environment.
Though many of these traits are core values for leadership roles, they are also strengths to build and possess through any stage in your career. We’ll leave you with one last quote from Mary Jo Larkin, Dean for Library and Information Resources, Chestnut Hill College. “You are a facilitator who observes and listens to find the best in your team, and to encourage it to flourish for the good of the organization.”
Do you have or are you yourself a remarkable boss? What trait do you believe makes the difference?