How to be a great boss

Over the past 45 years I have worked for numerous bosses as well as myself. Over that period of time I have figured out a few characteristics that go into making a “GREAT” boss. Honesty, integrity, fairness and a sense of morals are givens but, how about some other factors such as:

  1. Clear Sense of Identity. Even if you like them, share a drink with them at a company event or hired them; employees cannot always be your external friends. As the boss, you must be careful and vigilant. Once you get involved in a social manner your ability to make clear minded decisions can become cloudy. The challenge with becoming a socializer with your employees is that it makes it difficult to be objective about performance and even more difficult to address under achievers.
  • Communicate – Communicate – Communicate. This is also referred to as nurturing relationships to get the job done. Communicate with your people on a daily basis and more than once. People need to know that you care before they care about what you know. If you truly want to maximize your overall effectiveness with your people they need to see you as a partner in their endeavors to succeed. Your professional relationship ought to transcend past boundaries by you taking a genuine interest in their well – being and / or professional development.
  • Be a Pro. Never jump the chain of command and admonish those that do. Life isn’t fair and nor is the bosses decision or company policies always fair. You deal with these decisions in a professional manner (swiftly and quietly) and move on. Being a “Pro” also implies, never – never – never make your people wrong in public. People who work hard and make decisions; make mistakes. You want these type of people working for you because they make your life easy and at the same time, make you look good when you shouldn’t. Take these situations as coaching opportunities to mold your people and educate them.
  • No Parent Attitude. People are at times complex and so are their problems. Gone are the days when we can say to our people; “leave your problems at home, you come to work to work so, do your job and deal with your problems outside of work.” Now we know that, this is not true. People bring their problems to work and it affects their work- no doubt about it.  

As a boss it is your job to ensure that the “drama” that affects their personal lives does not affect the quality of their work and to that end, don’t give your people advise and attempt to parent them towards a solution. This will end badly for all parties and in the end it will be your fault. Even if it isn’t; it will be in the minds of the employee. Help them work through their problems wit the help of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) but, no advice.

  • The Company is First.  Any and every decision you make must be in the best interest of the company you work for. Remember, who is signing your pay cheque? There are times when decisions will be made much to the dismay of your business unit and / or department however, it is in the best interest of the company and you are professionally obligated to support it and make that decision work. Remember, by working in the company’s best interest, communication is clear and your goals and objectives as well as those of the employees are not questioned.
  • Different Strokes For Different Folks.  In order to treat people equally, you have to treat them differently because they are. Always treat people the way they want to treated in the job and career, not to where you want them to be in the future.
  • Life is Lonely for a Boss. Harry Truman said it best when he said, “the buck stops here.” You can encourage team play, an atmosphere of involvement and a participative approach to management but, ultimately the final responsibility is yours. Being a “GREAT” boss includes the willingness to make the tough decisions, the sometimes questionable choices and the preparedness to live with the outcome. Even as you create a winning team and a sound approach to leading that team, prepare to be lonely.
  • Don’t Procrastinate. Procrastination is sometimes referred to as the “pleasure principle” whereby the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment and delaying the important tasks to a later time. Procrastination will result in stress, and crisis and in turn, results in a loss of productivity, as well as professional disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. When a decision has to be made……..make it; a job has to be done…… it or….…get out of the way.

About The Author.Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Southern Ontario, Canada. An international presenter and consultant, he is known as a leader in operations management.  Nicholas conducts programs in human behaviour, conflict resolution, negotiation, leadership and management and has been a consultant since 1989. Author of several management and leadership publications, his presentations have been consistently ranked in the top10