We Are Sunshine

What Kind of Boss Are You?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Yahoo! Small Business Advisor posted “8 Signs of an Extraordinary Boss” by Geoffrey James. It’s an excellent article for owners and managers to affirm the things they’re doing well and take note of areas that need improvement.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield. According to James, “Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of ‘troops’ to order about, demonize competitors as ‘enemies,’ and treat customers as ‘territory’ to be conquered.”

Friendly competition between co-workers is always a fun, motivational exercise, but turning your teams against one another only creates chaos for your business. Extraordinary bosses see the value in creating partnerships and create a diverse environment to promote a wide range of ideas for the greatest successes.

2. A company is a community, not a machine. This has always been a disparaging characterization of big business, but it seems to be gaining momentum in smaller business characterization today as well. “Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by ‘pulling levers’ and ‘steering the ship.’”

Exceptional bosses realize the value of each individual employee. They find out what goals their employees have and work together to achieve them. Inspiring your employees creates a sense of loyalty, not only for them but also for your customers and community.

3. Management is service, not control. “Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the ‘wait and see what the boss says’ mentality.”

None of us want to be micro-managed: It’s a time suck and it actually hinders productivity and progress. Allowing employees to govern themselves to an extent promotes responsibility and a sense of self-worth.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children. “Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.”

Attitude reflects leadership. Don’t treat your employees like children unless you want them to act like children. James says, “Excellence is expected everywhere [by an exemplary boss], from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.”

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear. Picture Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross” or Gary Cole from “Office Space,” two of Hollywood’s all-time worst bosses. Cutting employees down or assigning extra work on the weekends is just too cruel. “Average bosses see fear – of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege – as a crucial way to motivate people. As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.”

Trying to scare employees will only work in the short term because they’ll eventually find work opportunities elsewhere. In the words of Geoffrey James, “Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.”

6. Change equals growth, not pain. Change is a part of life, so having a staff that’s willing to change and grow will find more value in their career. “While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business,” says James.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation. In this age, computer technology has become like another limb. While average bosses see technology as “a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability,” they ultimately “dehumanize and antagonize employees.”

Take the time to find out what technology actually makes your staff’s job easier. “Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.”

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil. “Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.”

Expecting your employees to hate their everyday tasks is just like a self-fulfilling prophecy: They will eventually hate it. While most tasks have some unappealing element, a great boss tries to make every day enjoyable so those tedious, unlikeable tasks are overshadowed by a great boss and generally awesome atmosphere.

To read the entire Yahoo! Business article, please click here.