Too many of us make getting on the leadership road far too difficult. Yet, there is a super-easy way to start. The one we most often forget.
Who was your bestest boss?
I am talking about the person you reported to for whom you would do anything. The one you took your best ideas to, the one for whom you did your best work. The one you trusted to have your back, to understand you. They always had time to show you how to maximize your energy and talent — gently and respectfully. Did you have one or many bestest bosses?
Last week, my note about the shortage of good managers generated quite a lot of noise. It seems many agree with me that the issue of remuneration and the shock that the responsibility to become a better boss lies within each of US, not with Human Resources. And while over the decades, many ‘outliers’ have tried to improve things in their own patch, sadly, those NOT in favour of changes are still part of the diminishing majority.
Then, I had a sidebar conversation about the overwhelming prevalence of second and third-rate bosses and the inability of employees to contribute. I was asked directly if there is hope or no hope for the process of changing mediocre to extraordinary.
Let me begin with that simple question.
Who was your bestest boss?
In my experience, one never realizes one had a dynamite boss until ten years after the fact. Worse, when we are ourselves fall into the categories of pretty good to dynamite boss, it can take 15–20 years before we ever get acknowledged or hear evidence supporting our actions.
Moving from mediocre to extraordinary is pretty much impossible without a tremendous amount of time and effort invested. However, moving from mediocre to average is much easier. So is moving from average to excellent and then to extraordinary.
Change is incredibly difficult for humans. Therefore we must have a basic, fundamental and empowering reason to make that change ourselves. Without this kind of reason, it is impossible to contemplate encouraging or making a change.
And in this new Post-Covid environment, where nothing will revert to what it once was, we face both complex and nuanced changes. Where to begin?
When it comes to getting the best from your team, let’s look at one place we all have in common — our best boss.
I mean, we all have the ones we hated. But what about our best ones?
What was it about that person you adored?
His/her listening skills, meeting facilitation proficiencies or even friendly personal chat with everyone nearly every day? Their ability to paint a bigger picture and include you in the conversation? Their patience in tolerating your enthusiasm and naivete? Never being treated with less than total respect — despite the vast differences in your rank?
Was it an easy acceptance and trust of your words — especially when you requested personal time? Fighting on your behalf or advocating to help you move up the ladder? Perhaps never blaming you or your teammates when things blew up and always praising everyone when things went well?
Now comes the hard part.
I’d like you to speak to the person in your mirror. Ask, then answer these questions.
1. What characteristics of your best boss do you carry and incorporate into your world today?
2. Can you copy or replicate more of their behaviours?
3. Are you aware of some of the other best traits of a good boss?
4. Are you interested in becoming a better boss?
5. What frightens you the most about becoming a better boss?
The reason for these tough questions is to drive home your motives, your desire, your empowerment to change YOURSELF. Because only YOU can decide to make the changes. And since many of those changes will be personally uncomfortable, you will be relying on your strength and stamina. Or you will want to grab someone like me to help you stay your course.
Being or becoming the pillar that employees respect, galvanize around or follow happily is not taught in schools or courses. It is all about moving through the messy parts. Fortunately, these days, inexpensive software tools can help accelerate your speed through the unpleasant aspects. However, they only work for those who are so inspired. In the end, it’s about the experience you amass, the journey you take, the path you follow.
Are you inspired to become a better boss yourself?
Could you use some help in the becoming part? Let’s have a conversation and talk about getting you headed in the best direction for you and your business. Of course, your best boss would expect nothing less of you.