How can you tell if you’re a good boss?
You can’t just go out into the office and ask your employees. If you’re terrible, they have a vested interest in not telling you the truth.
You’re going to have to do some serious introspection and reflection to find out, either way. With that in mind, here are some subtle signs that you’re an excellent leader:
1. You’re willing to try new things
Good bosses adopt certain methods because they’re the best way of doing things — not because they have just fallen into certain habits. The best managers give their employees a little room to experiment and innovate.
2. You treat your employees like human beings
Unfortunately, some bosses seem to feel that hurling insults and abuse at people is an effective motivational technique. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. If you value your employees as human beings, then you’re already a huge step above many managers.
3. You don’t have obvious favourites
Playing favourites is a great way to torpedo office morale. If you make it clear that a certain person is the apple of your eye no matter what, then that will just encourage your other employees to give up on trying to impress you.
4. You hold everyone accountable …
Maintaining accountability is a big part of office morale and encourages workers to act with integrity, leading to an excellent workplace culture.
5. … including yourself
Good bosses don’t pick a scapegoat or explain away mistakes. In fact, experienced managers admit it when they fail in order to create a workplace that’s a safe environment for experimentation.
6. You ask politely
Insecure bosses bark out orders and behave like divas in order to establish their dominance. If you always say the magic word and are generally polite, then that’s definitely a good sign.
7. You give support
Bosses should build trust with their employees by providing a reasonable amount of support and guidance. Obviously, you don’t need to hold anyone’s hand, but throwing people into the deep end isn’t ideal, either.
8. You remove obstacles
Bad bosses throw up roadblocks that make it harder for people to succeed and do their jobs. Great managers should actively work to make the lives of their employees easier.
9. You’re a good coach
Coaches don’t just sit back on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs. They don’t run onto the field and start playing, either — unless they’re that one scary dad that takes the youth recreational soccer league way too seriously.
Good bosses are like good coaches: They command respect and provide the right blend of praise and constructive criticism to bring out the best in their employees.
10. You’re able to manage expectations
Bad bosses often disappoint or confuse their teams by presenting inaccurate pictures about how things are at the office — e.g., talking up how well the company’s doing and then springing news of layoffs on everyone. Good managers are honest and open.
11. You give feedback
Good employees crave feedback to learn how they can improve and grow. Great bosses are happy to oblige.
12. You keep the environment open and transparent
Transparency makes for a happy office culture.
13. You ask for insight
Employees want to feel heard.
Obviously, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for making the final judgment. But once in a while, if the situation calls for it, good bosses reach out to their workers to get their insights and opinions.
14. You explain yourself
Good managers don’t expect anyone to read their minds. They outline a clear vision and provide their team with the knowledge and tools to achieve it.
15. You care about solutions
When the going gets tough, the weak bosses find someone to blame. Good managers focus on finding a solution to the problem, rather than throwing people under the bus.
16. You want to challenge your employees
Bored workers are unhappy workers. The best bosses check in with their workers to ensure that they’re being challenged.
17. You don’t micromanage, but you’re not too hands-off
Carefully examine the capabilities of your workers in order to achieve a good balance. Could you give any of them more responsibilities? Is there anything you can start delegating?
18. You check in with your employees
You don’t pop in to nag people like Bill Lumbergh in “Office Space.” You genuinely check in to talk to — not at — your employees in order to find out their goals and worries.
19. You have a sense of humour
It’s important to never take the joking too far in the office. That being said, good bosses take their work seriously — not themselves. It’s good to have a laugh with your employees.
20. You care about the dreams and goals of your employees
The best bosses are invested in their employees. That means that they’re actively concerned with the professional goals and aspirations of their workers.
21. You’re not nice just for the sake of being nice…
Being too nice of a boss can actually be rather cruel, as Betty Liu points out in her LinkedIn piece. Artificially sweet managers heap on undeserved praise, then yank the rug out from under their employees later on.
So don’t play nice because you don’t like conflict. Be authentic and real with your workers. You’ll be doing them a big favour.
22. … and that means you’re able to make tough calls
Weak bosses flee from confrontation. Excellent workplace leaders don’t seek out uncomfortable situations, but when one arises, they can handle it. They do what needs to be done, whether it’s plotting a new course for a team or firing a problem employee.
23. You’re a good listener
This is the main reason why introverts make quite good bosses.
Many people have had a manager who loved to talk. Rarer — and infinitely more appreciated — are those bosses who are quality listeners. Good listening skills shows your employees that you’re seriously considering their opinions and needs.
24. You take an interest in your employees’ lives
Good bosses don’t cross the line into nosiness. Still, they care enough to ask about peoples’ summer plans, kids, and elderly parents. This interest will demonstrate to employees that their boss actually cares about them, making both parties more invested in their working relationship.
25. You tailor your approach
Different employees have different needs. “One size fits all” just isn’t going to cut it in the workplace. The best bosses are flexible. This allows them to fulfil all sorts of roles in order to better cater to the needs of their workers.
26. You demand effort…
Great leaders demand — and inspire — employees to work hard. They lead by example and give workers the tools they need to succeed through hard work.
27. … but you don’t demand perfection
Bosses who are too rigid are simply unrealistic. People make mistakes. It happens. If you punish small failures, you’ll just stifle innovation, experimentation and proactivity in your office.
28. You think you’re an awful leader
Business Insider recently spoke with TED legend and author Simon Sinek about leadership. He explained that individuals who believe themselves to be excellent leaders are often, in fact, terrible leaders. Great bosses recognise that authority and rank do not equal leadership abilities. As a result, they are constantly working to improve themselves. These quality bosses might even feel inadequate at times. However, just the fact that they recognise their own flaws renders them superior to many managers that totally lack self-awareness.
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