What Does It Take to Be a Good Boss?

by Jill Schaefer on February 19, 2018

Throughout my career, I’ve had a string of bad bosses. You probably have too. According to Gallup, only 10% of human beings are naturally wired to be great managers. And, others who may not be naturally gifted bosses, are teachable. However, candidates with the right talent for the job are only selected 18% of the time.

With those kinds of statistics, having a bad boss almost seems inevitable, like a rite of passage, but what if there was a better way to cultivate leaders within organizations? Certainly, my current boss is amazing and she gives me hope in my own journey to become a better leader and contributor. She embraces the concept that leadership is about enabling the full potential in others.

But what are the steps to greatness?

Inc. Magazine suggests that true leaders demonstrate these five skills day in and day out:

  • Ability to analyze situations from all sides
  • Allow feedback
  • Admit mistakes and missteps
  • Adjust things until they’re right
  • Adopt new behavior patterns and help employees become comfortable with them

Another thing that defines leaders is the concept of a growth mindset as put forth by Carol Dweck, a psychologist who studies this topic.

Fixed MindsetGrowth Mindset
Am I going to be good at it immediately?Can I learn to do it?
Afraid of making mistakesViews setbacks as opportunities
Only do activities that validate their abilitiesSeek activities that expand skills
Think in terms of abilityThink in terms of effort

You may be nodding in agreement thus far in this blog post, ‘Yep, those all sound like things that characterize leaders.’ The tricky part is how to recognize up-and-coming leaders within your ranks and help them ascend within your organization.

Forbes offers us these tips:

  1. Empower employees through mentorship and delegation.
  2. Be patient — help your employees find the path that best leverages their strengths.
  3. Don’t promise your employees something and then switch strategy midstream. If you’re stoking someone for a leadership position, don’t hire an outside individual before they’re ready.
  4. Assess where potential leaders are currently at. Through a combination of case studies, training, work scenarios, and behavior-based interviews, you can measure someone’s leadership performance and potential.
  5. Encourage leaders and bosses to discuss mentors for high-potential employees. Avoid assigning a mentor to a promising employee, but come up with a few people and have the boss broach the topic.
  6. Discuss an employee’s future career path. Bosses should approach their employees and talk about what the employee wants to accomplish and how they can help.

As my current boss told me recently, there’s a difference between good managers and good leaders. Managers excel at managing people and processes, while leaders adapt to their team’s needs and inspire and motivate exceptional work. I aspire to become the latter.

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Jill SchaeferWhat Does It Take to Be a Good Boss?