How to be the World's Best Boss
In honor of Boss' Day, we collected these eight tips on how to be a management rock star. In other words: how to avoid being the Mr. Burns or Michael Scott of your workplace.
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“The single most important characteristic of a great boss is integrity (honesty and truthfulness),” says Kristie Loescher, sr. lecture in Department of Management. “Unfortunately, surveys tell us that over 60% of U.S. employees do not trust their leaders. To build trusting relationships, in addition to integrity, bosses must also be competent, consistent, loyal and open.”
Connect on a personal level.
“It’s important to have high empathy for your team and be friends,” says Matt Chasen, MBA ’04, CEO of uShip. “You want to connect on a personal level. That brings out the best in folks and can be a real motivator, because you don’t want to let down your friends.”
Don’t avoid conflict.
“I think a good boss uses public praise and private criticism to develop and motivate her employees,” says Susan Thompson, BBA ’84, president and CEO of HR Playbook. “A good boss does not avoid conflict but, rather, uses tough situations as a counseling opportunity.”
Recognition, recognition, recognition.
“The easiest and most effective involvement of a great boss is to recognize any and all of his associates for how well they do their job. Recognition is sorely lacking in most boss’ itinerary,” says Red McCombs, principal of McCombs Enterprises. “I always remind our people that there are only three things a person is going to get out of their job: remuneration, recognition and personal satisfaction.”
Happy employees mean happy shareholders.
“From the beginning, I’ve always looked at the employees and the team as my client,” says Alissa Bayer, MBA ’04, owner/founder of milk + honey Spa. “If they’re confident, happy, well-trained and motivated, they’re going to do their job well. Happy clients make a happy shareholder, and it makes a nice virtuous circle.”
Share the good, the bad and the ugly.
“I think the key to being a great boss is transparency,” says Melinda Garvey, McCombs entrepreneur in residence. “There are so many different ways to effectively manage people, but the great leaders are truly willing to share the good, bad and otherwise so that the ‘employee’ can grow and learn and participate in key decisions. It’s the only way to truly create the next generation of leaders.”
Develop the people below you.
“As a leader, my responsibility is to make sure you see where people’s potential is and develop that,” says Kevin Ryan, BBA ’84, CFO of Merit Energy Co. “Sometimes that means making sure people get confident in those abilities and skills, and sometimes you have to push them to make that happen. It’s critical to make sure you’re developing the people below you: giving them opportunities and experiences so they could step into your shoes.”
Paint the big picture.
“A great boss understands what’s most critical to driving business results and managing your career—and knows how to keep you focused on both,” says Neena Newberry, MBA ’92, CEO of Newberry Executive Coaching & Consulting. “In other words, he/she can paint the big picture for you, help you understand how you fit into it, and help you focus on what really matters.”
For more management tips, join our Nov. 8 Knowledge To Go webinar, "Motivating Employees: Beyond Carrots and Sticks," with Kristie J. Loescher.