Think of the best boss you ever had.
I don’t know the boss. I don’t know you. But, I’ll bet that there are a few things I could guess about whoever he or she might have been.
In fact, I’ll also bet that this boss could have truthfully answered “yes” to a short series of questions that just go to show how effective they were. Now that you’re the boss, it’s worth asking them of yourself.
If you say “yes” to each of these, someday one of your current workers will cite you as their best boss ever. Ready? Here are the questions:
1. Can you articulate your organization’s goal in one single sentence?
Let’s assume you lead an organization. It could be three people; it could be three thousand.
What’s their raison d’etre? Why does the organization exist? If there is one person in the entire outfit who absolutely needs to be able to explain this quickly, cleanly, and compellingly, it’s you.
Bonus points if everyone else in the organization can do it, too.
2. Do you go out of your way to express gratitude?
There are two key reasons why you should go out of your way to express gratitude.
The first is about your team. They want to be fairly compensated. Heck, maybe even more than fairly compensated.
You’re the boss; you’re the leader. It’s your job to make them feel appreciated.
But there’s another reason: the self-centered reason (in the most generous sense of the word).
The more you express gratitude, studies show, the better your mood, your health, and your ability to achieve success.
Try it; it works. (Thanks for reading, by the way.)
3. Do you respect other people’s time?
This meeting could have been an email. This email could have been a quick SMS or Slack message.
It’s not a lot of time, really, and it’s the scarcest resource that any of us have.
So, even if they never think to articulate it, people appreciate and work harder for leaders who respect their time.
Here, I’ll respect yours by not belaboring the point, and moving onto the next question.
4. Do you work to be aware of the power of your words?
Great leaders are great communicators, and great communicators understand that almost every time you communicate with anyone else, you send multiple messages, on multiple levels.
Some people on your team might hear just that. But others might hear things like:
- Hmmm, customers first; where does that leave employees?
- OK, I guess that means we shouldn’t take risks on new products that customers don’t like.
- Wait, last month our top priority was cutting costs; now it’s customer satisfaction?
Two ways to improve this: Think through what you want to say, and be consistent.
And, think carefully about the words you use, and the unintended additional messages you might be sending by choosing them. (I have an entire free ebook that focuses a lot on this second point: 9 Smart Habits of People With Very High Emotional Intelligence.)