Is there a sine qua non, a set of characteristics that define a good boss in these troubled economic times?
Most certainly we are in the midst of a difficult period of which there will be no miracle cure-all “switch” that can be simply “turned on” to quickly alleviate the pain. Every day we read of companies facing difficulties. Generating income, improving cash flow and making ends meet are common place issues confronting all.
Companies that invest in their people will be better equipped to compete and survive. Forward thinking companies recognise the link between employee engagement and sustainable company performance.
Bosses must provide the strong leadership that sets direction and communicate that direction so that all stakeholders understand and buy in to the plan.
It is true that difficult economic times seem to bring out both the best and worst of leaders.
Effective leaders distinguish themselves by their capacity to inspire colleagues to action. Having employees with a will to work effectively, collaboratively, cooperatively and with a unified direction is a recipe for success. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. From this we can conclude that we are the only ones who can use our ability. The decision to survive and thrive is clearly a choice.
In order to succeed you must know what you are doing; believe in what you are doing and like what you are doing. This is the key.
Many of today’s chief executives, general managers and leaders who are experiencing this current pain must surely be thinking “is the job I signed up for”. The often expressed maxim “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a clue for survival and sustainable profitability.
Sure, there will be a need to re-evaluate business plans and strategy in light of the current conditions. However, the most important thing is to remain focused and adhere to the agreed-upon tactics. By keeping employees focused during these tough times a greater level of comfort for all will be achieved. Teams will see and know how management responds to the various situations and will be supportive as the whole organisation seeks to improve performance and remain viable.
Team members take notice of and pay attention to those who control their activities. The psychological state of teams can often be driven by fear and anxiety. It is critically important; the leader demonstrates high levels of emotional intelligence and displays a calm stability in their behaviour.
Good bosses ask colleagues and teams for opinion on things and encourage thinking. They promote empowerment, delegations of authority, with trust and confidence. When asked for advice, the effective leader gives the advice without fuss or drama. A good boss will connect everyone’s priorities and help individuals understand their part in the organisation goals.
In summary , the key drivers to being a good boss in these tough times include;
- Having a high degree of trust in your team.
- Delegating responsibilities.
- Not micromanaging.
- Good communication. Share the goals, share the dreams and share the reality. Listen effectively to your team. They desire and need to be heard.
- Walk the talk, act with integrity, honesty, transparency and best ethics. Character, integrity, values and trust are the cornerstones of a person’s foundation and this determines your success.
- Ensure employees know how their contribution adds value to the overall company performance.
- Encourage creative thinking.
- Create ability to anticipate change. Make change an opportunity and embrace it with vitality.
- Get to know your colleagues. Find out why they choose to work with you. Learn their hearts and their minds will follow.
- Develop succession plans for positions including your own. Empower your team to make decisions. If a decision turns out to be wrong, use the experience to encourage, learn and improve.
- Teach your colleagues problem-solving skills so that they can work things out. Encourage them to contribute and praise them often.
- Understand the linkage between the success of the company and the efforts of your team.
- Develop a culture of pride in being part of the team. Manage by walkabouts.
- Make a point of regularly meeting with the team, get to know them personally, their work environment, their family situations, their dreams, goals and aspirations. Find someone doing something well and tell them.
- Seize that opportunity to share a sincere complement.
Show that you are in control of the situation, be strong and decisive. It is important you remain the ultimate authority. Stay focused and act swiftly as problems arise. Remember, your attitudes and beliefs will lead your team’s behaviour. You must lead.
Dennis Waitley in his book “Seeds of Greatness” created this little poem which is an appropriate and timely message for us all.
I’d rather watch a winner
I’d rather watch a winner than hear one any day,
I’d rather have one walk with me then merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing but examples always clear.
And the best of all the coaches are the ones, who live their creeds,
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done,
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true;
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
For I may understand you and the high advice you’d give;
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
I’d rather watch a winner, than hear one any day
Finally to quote John Naisbitt “Megatrends”. “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough people get what they want”.