What Amazing Bosses Do Differently

Worlds Best Boss

This blog post was from the Harvard Business Review and written by Sydney Finkelstein author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent where he talks about 5 things Amazing Bosses do differently.

We all know that job satisfaction often hinges on the quality of the relationships we have with our bosses. Yet in today’s rapidly evolving, 24/7 workplaces, it’s not always clear what managers should do to create the most satisfying work experiences and the happiest employees. My research into the world’s most successful bosses has unearthed some common practices that make work much more meaningful and enjoyable. If you supervise others, make sure you do the following:

Manage individuals, not teams. When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to forget that employees are unique individuals, with varying interests, abilities, goals, and styles of learning. But it’s important to customize your interactions with them. Ensure you understand what makes them tick. Be available and accessible for one-on-one conversations. Deliver lessons cued to individual developmental needs. And when it comes to promotion, look past rigid competency models and career ladders for growth opportunities tailored to the ambitions, talents, and capacities of each person.

Dr. Paul Batalden, a professor emeritus at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine, who previously worked under Tommy Frist at healthcare giant HCA, told me that his former boss was “such an unusual CEO” of a company that size. “You could always get to see him. He always had time.”  Samuel Howard, another Frist protégé who is now CEO of Xantus Corp, added, “when you asked him to do something, he would roll up his sleeves” and work with you to get it done.

Go big on meaning.  Most employees value jobs that let them contribute and make a difference, and many organizations now emphasize meaning and purpose in the hopes of fostering engagement. But this is also the manager’s responsibility. You can’t rely on incentives like bonuses, stock options, or raises. You’ve got to inspire them with a vision, set challenging goals and pump up their confidence so they believe they can actually win. Articulate a clear purpose that fires your team up, set expectations high, and convey to the group that you think they’re capable of virtually anything.

Legendary bosses like Bill Sanders in real estate, Julian Robertson in hedge funds, and Bill Walsh in professional football all communicated visions that entranced employees and left them hell-bent on success. Scot Sellers, a protégé of Sanders who went on to become CEO of Archstone before retiring in 2013, recalled that his former boss “would lay out his vision and say, ‘I would like you to be a part of it.’ You were so honored to be asked… that you just wanted to jump in and say, ‘Sign me up!’”

To read the other 3 things that Amazing Bosses do differently click here:


 

Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management in Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and the author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent (Portfolio/Penguin, February 2016) from which this article was adapted.

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