Bosses…most of us have one. Some are good and some are not so good. But every one of them has an impact. The question is, what kind of impact? Does their influence cause learning, growth, and success for their team members, or does it damper their enthusiasm, discourage autonomy, and produce mediocrity?
I believe leadership may be a complex notion but it doesn’t have to be complicated in practice. There are basic, common sense behaviors that successful leaders share.
To illustrate this principle of common sense leadership, I asked my wife, two sons, and nephew to list five qualities they want in a boss. The similarity in their lists was remarkable (and pretty common sense). By no means do they represent a statistically significant population size, but their answers are valuable nuggets of leadership wisdom that any leader should put into practice.
Here are five common sense qualities every employee wants in their boss:
1. Easy to work with – Employees want bosses who are easy to work with and make work enjoyable. Having a good sense of humor, being flexible, patient, and being a good listener all help make life on the job pleasant. Kindness goes a long way. No one wants to work for Mr. or Mrs. Grumpy-pants, so leave the bad attitude at home. It doesn’t cost much to smile and be pleasant so spread a little sunshine to your team.
2. Shows interest in me as a person, not just an employee – Employees want a boss who shows interest in them as individuals and not just workers showing up to do a job. Ask your employees how their weekend went, how their kid played in their soccer game, or how their family is doing. You’ll be amazed at how your people will respond (if they looked shocked that you even asked you’ll know you’ve got more work to do!). Your team members will engage more in their work, be more productive, and their trust and loyalty to you will increase over time.
3. Be a role model of dependability and have a strong work ethic – Leaders show the way. They need to be the role model of how they want every team member to perform. If you expect your people to work hard, then you need to work hard. If you want your employees to display excellent customer service, then you need to do the same. Behave as if your employees are constantly watching you…because they are.
4. Know the work of your team – Too often bosses lose touch with reality. They get too far removed from the day-to-day work and become callous to the challenges and demands their team members face. Employees want their boss to be sympathetic and understanding. They want the boss to be knowledgeable enough about their work so they can provide the right amount of direction and support to help them accomplish their goals.
5. Have my back – Employees want a boss who assumes best intentions and doesn’t automatically assume they screwed up when something goes wrong. These bosses assume best intentions, listen without judgement, and trust their employees to do the right thing. They protect their employees from being taken advantage of yet don’t swoop in to rescue them when they need to stand on their own two feet.
Pretty common sense, but unfortunately, not common practice. Incorporate these five practices into your repertoire as a leader and you’ll see the growth in your team’s morale and productivity.