Are You a Good Boss?

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Categories: Management Approaches

Situation: You want a way to verify what you already know is true.

Jim Finkelstein recently wrote a book entitled "Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™" that offers some ideas on how to make your workplace healthier and more productive.  Here are five "boss types" that he sketches out and considers "good".  

Do any of these describe you?

Not all bosses are created equal, however, and there are certain trends that make for better bosses.  Forty years of combined experience – one of us with 35 as a professional management consultant and the other with 5 as a fresh and reflective worker – have uncovered prime examples of good bosses.  To enlighten the modern workplace and workforce, here are five examples of good bosses (and they are not mutually exclusive):

1)    The Listener – a boss who will listen to and appreciates different points of view.  This boss hears and honors their employees’ thoughts and considerations respectfully but with a caveat being they may or may not put these ideas into action.    The Listener listens to their employees because they were hired for a reason.  As such, they trust their employees and value their input.  Sometimes, they are even dependent upon it.  The Listener is a good boss because they have insight beyond their own experience and vision, insight that is influenced by many angles, and because if their employees are allowed to voice their own opinions and ideas, they are inspired and engaged.

2)    The Empowerer – a boss that lets employees run their own show and lets them learn by making some mistakes.  To a degree of trust and support, this boss cultivates leadership in their team.  Working together, they identify tasks and create a plan, but let the employees decide the nuts & bolts of how it actually gets done.  The Empowerer doesn’t delegate aimlessly, creating a sense of subordination in their team, but rather engages their employees from the ground up in a focused manner.  Employees are inspired to take on leadership roles and collaborate both with their boss and with others.  The Empowerer is a good boss because they can simultaneously ignite productivity, personal development, and satisfaction among their employees.  

3)    The Mentor – a boss that teaches, coaches and guides.  This boss doesn’t necessarily need to be older, but a tad wiser or simply just willing to share.  They seek to understand their employees’ experiences and identify which ones need or want mentoring.  The relationship with their employees is constructive, meaning both criticism and praise are offered with the intentions of growing the employees set of skills.  An offer to mentor is either explicitly offered or subtly developed over time.  The goal is both in current interest and looking towards the future, always geared to enhance the employees’ skills.  The Mentor is a good boss because they ensure a future for the employee and the company while inspiring immediate productivity and engagement.

4)    The Cool Dude (or Dudette) – a boss that has fun and lets their employees have fun.  This boss maintains a certain aura of authority while creating a likeable and lively atmosphere.  They let their employees enjoy their time at work and find time for small diversions, within the confines that the job still gets done…and done well.  At those instances, this boss rewards their employees with time off or special workplace events within the realm of a respectable workplace culture.  The Cool Dude or Dudette is a good boss because they understand that all employees are people, that all people need some kind of fun, and that happy employees are healthy, productive, and engaged.   

5)    The Creator – a boss who inspires invention and creativity.  This boss pushes the limits of their employees to ignite innovation.  They challenge intellect and question the status quo, so that new products and ideas are developed from within.  The Creator embodies the spirit of imagination and is never overly demanding.  Creativity and invention come from a unique mindset, so this boss correctly identifies those in their team that are keen to this way of thinking.  As such, The Creator is a good boss because they are motivational and collaborative.

These five bosses, or rather their respective characteristics, exemplify what makes for healthy leadership within organizations.  Many bosses may embody many or all of these characteristics.  The best bosses are able to reflect upon their own natural inclinations and experiences, leveraging their assets and developing areas of weakness.  Common trends amongst these five good bosses make for a great boss as well – collaborative, communicative, engaging, and inspirational.  Our new cogenerational world is crying out for leaders – of all ages and generations -- and hopefully many of us will realize that great leaders can exist in the smallest, biggest, nearest and furthest of places.  

Posted on: November 18, 2011 01:56 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Dave - another great post. Thanks! Any chance that Finkelstein shared five examples of "bad" bosses?

Great post - thanks for sharing. I particularly like the "listener" and the "empowerer." Some of the best bosses I've had (before starting my own business) are those that listen to their employees and seek out information from their employees and those who empower them to do their jobs.

You want to have a boss who is successful at his/her level in having the trust of the hierarchy, successful in obtaining space, staff, funding and prioirity in the resource allocation processes, and one who is skillful in protecting the staff by providing political cover when appropriate.

Thanks for the post. I especially like your comments on going from good to great - "Common trends amongst these five good bosses make for a great boss as well – collaborative, communicative, engaging, and inspirational." Michael also has some good insights into the political side of things.

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