When we recently asked our Facebook and Twitter followers what a great boss never does, our readers were not shy about letting us know what kind of person they don't want occupying the corner office. We got some great answers, such as, A great boss never… “assumes he or she is the smartest person in the room,” and, A great boss never...“asks the members of his/her team to do something he/she isn't willing to do, too.”
But it's too easy to think in negative terms—what’s more difficult is crafting useful advice for those folks who occupy the top job in the organization.
“A great boss always…listens.”
Executives, take note—here is our most popular response. It's been said that we have two ears and one tongue so that we may hear more and speak less. Listening is a difficult art, but for executives it’s crucial that employees think they are tuned in.
“A great boss always…leads by example.”
No employee wants to feel like he or she has to do something the boss wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do. Leading by example is important because employees want to feel like collaborators, not serfs.
“A great boss always…challenges you to be better.”
Landing the top job at any company is no easy feat, so by default there must be something to learn from the person sitting at the head of the table. By challenging employees, a great boss encourages improvement, wielding the mantle of his or her position in a constructive way.
“A great boss always…has my back.”
Engaged employees feel like they are part of a team and, by extension of that metaphor, that means that their boss is their coach. A great boss should stand up for his or her employees the same way a coach campaigns for the benefit and advantage of his players—even when they’ve done something wrong.
“A great boss always…encourages the next generation of leaders to rise up.”
The best executives leave their mark on a company not just by what they do themselves—they create more lasting legacies by shaping their companies' group of emerging leaders. Not being afraid to cede responsibility to up-and-coming managers is also a sign that a great boss is comfortable in a leadership role.
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Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bwilliamgreene