When I teach leadership development workshops, I always ask a group of supervisors this question:  “Have you ever worked for a bad boss?” I always get unanimous hand raises…  Then I ask, “What are some of the things that bad bosses do?”  The responses:

they micromanage
they don’t trust their people to do the job
they’re never available and always “in a meeting”
they don’t ever tell you if you’re doing a good job
they work a bazilion hours but never get anything done
they work 24/7 sending emails on the weekend
they never ‘back us up’
they set expectations that are ‘clear as mud’ and then yell when things don’t get done right
they cave in to politics and won’t challenge up even when it’s necessary…
they don’t give us the tools/resources to do the job–but scream when job doesn’t get done

When I ask the question, “So, what are some of the things that good bosses do?”  The responses are just the opposite:

they trust us–and let us do our jobs without micromanaging

they give clear direction and set expectations
they give us the tools/resources to get the job done
they create ‘stretch’ goals to challenge their people
they are assertive and challenge up when appropriate
they delegate responsibility to develop the skills of the people on the team
they give recognition and a pat on the pack when a job is well done
they’re open to feedback so they can improve

So, what does it take to be a great leader?  RESPECT.   It’s about respecting the people who work for you and caring enough about them to give them the right tools, resources, training, and clear direction of what is to be accomplished–and to reward them when they have done so.  Another way to look at being a leader is that it’s a lot like being an orchestra conductor.  To be a great conductor can’t get the orchestra working well together if you’re sitting next to the oboe player telling her how to play the oboe the way YOU used to play the it… (that’s called micromanaging, by the way…)  You have to first set clear expectations about the piece of music you want the orchestra to play, provide them with adequate resources (such as having enough horns, percussion, etc.), setting goals, such as how soon they need to have perfected the concerto, AND then recognizing them and rewarding them for their achievement in meeting your expectations.   Too often, leaders are so busy trying to play the oboe–that they completely lose sight of the rest of the orchestra.  You can’t get a group working well together if you’re focusing on one small issue at a time–commonly known as “putting out fires.”   That is also known as “reactionary leadership.”

In summary, being a great leader means you have to genuinely care about leading a group of people toward a common goal.  If you are someone who prefers to work alone, or who prefers to work on accomplishing individual goals–leadership may not be for you–and that’s okay.   Leadership is about knowing how to leverage the talents, skills, and abilities of people to accomplish common goals.

Published On: June 16th, 2017 / Categories: Blog /

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