We believe that you can learn something from everyone. That doesn’t mean everything you learn is positive, as we’ve discussed in our article on Lessons from Bad Bosses. But here we did want to accentuate the positive and discuss lessons learned from Good Bosses!
Having worked for at least two dozen bosses over the years, a quick sortation reveals that half of them I considered good and half were either bad, or not quite so good.
On top of that we have published here a few dozen of our “Seasoned Leadership in Action™” interviews. These interviews also highlight the outstanding behaviours and characteristics of those who are great leaders and bosses in their own right.
Whether you are a prospective boss, a new boss, or an experience boss, there are lessons to be learned by everyone.
Without further ado here are the top 10 positive leadership skills that we’ve observed from people we’ve worked for and people we’ve worked with.
1. They are Strong in Delegation and Empowerment
For my part I do not like to be micromanaged. I certainly accept being held accountable for what I am doing and to have to answer for that work. But I do not want my boss looking over my shoulder constantly injecting themselves in what I am working on.
I prefer a boss with whom I can agree on the objectives and metrics and then the boss gives me the freedom and empowerment to accomplish the task.
2. They Have Your Back
Good bosses have your back. There are many forces that can derail you or anything you are working on, particularly if you are making significant changes that upset the sacred cows and old ways of doing things.
These bosses provide air cover for you. They support you in the face of challenges, criticism and politics. They have your back.
3. They Are Inspiring
In order to get things done you need to inspire your employees, your peers, and the organization at large. That inspiration draws people to you and motivates them to do things that may not otherwise be considered possible.
These bosses often, but not always, command the room. Then again they may be more introverted. Regardless they are able to inspire through their words and actions.
4. They Put Others First
Certainly anyone has their own personal objectives and ambitions. But great bosses put others first. They are clearly not just out for themselves. They make sacrifices and make concerted efforts to take care of their employees and help them in whatever respect is necessary.
5. They are Genuine and Trustworthy
Politics are always at play in any organization, big or small. And your boss must be able to navigate the political minefield. But through it all your boss can be trusted.
You can trust what they say and you can trust what they do. You may not always agree with what your boss does but you can trust that they are coming from a place such that you can trust that they are doing what they believe to be right.
6. They do the Right Thing, not just the Popular Thing
Great bosses have great integrity in the face of tremendous pressure. They don’t do what their bosses tell them if it is wrong. They stand their ground, even if in the extreme it costs them their job.
I faced this exact situation. My new boss was doing some very inappropriate and unethical things. I could not condone or support this behaviour, which was visible to everyone, and I left the company for that reason alone, with my integrity in tact.
7. They Challenge the Status Quo
There are a lot of forces in any organization that are just fine with continuing to do things the way they have always been done, even while they complain about it. The great boss objectively observes these situations and makes the bold decision to challenge the status quo.
If you want different results then you must do different things. Bosses are rarely there to manage a situation just as it is and to make no improvements. They are usually there to drive change, improvements, and increases in efficiency and productivity. And they have the courage to tackle these barriers head on.
8. They See the Big Picture
These bosses are able to see both the forest and the trees. They are able to bring a much broader perspective in viewing and understanding any situation. Whereas others are immersed in the details and have a very narrow scope of vision, great bosses bring an ability to look at the situation from a much higher altitude.
This enables these bosses to look at the larger context and dynamics, and provide valuable insights and perspective that may not be obvious to those working in the weeds of any situation.
9. They Share
Great bosses do not hoard their knowledge, their experiences, or their rewards. They share them. They understand that a key part of their role is to help and develop others. The more they share the stronger their employees and organizations become, making them even more important and more powerful.
They mentor people freely. They give of their minds, their time and their resources.
10. They Model a Positive Work-Life Balance
There is more to life than just work. Being a workaholic doesn’t often get you that far and it leads to burn out at some point. Good bosses know that they need to model and expect a positive work-life balance. Employees who have this balance will be more productive, happier, and more motivated.
If the boss is expecting you to work weekends, to be on call at all hours, and to be available at a moment’s notice, then they are invading your personal time and your personal space. Good bosses don’t do this. They certainly don’t do this as a matter of habit.
As we stated at the beginning of this article, you can learn anything from anyone. With bad bosses you can learn about the types of behaviours that you don’t want to emulate. With good bosses you can learn about the types of behaviour that you want to copy and embed in your operating style.
What other positive lessons have you learned from the good bosses and people in your lives and in your past? Be sure to comment and let us know!