As we start to see more teams returning to traditional office working hours, I wanted to touch on this FAQ: “How can I be a good boss?”
If you’re a boss, leader, manager, or in any other role that holds authority, you are in a unique position to influence others for the better—which is why I focus on you becoming the best version of you first. Only after you have settled into some self awareness and understand your own limitations and opportunities for improvement can you authentically partner with others on their growth.
So what can you do to be a great boss, first?
Be a model. No Zoolander looks required. I always recommend that leaders consider themselves models for their teams. You don’t have to be a role model, per se, or perfect—but people often respond more to action than words. If you’re asking your team to work harder, put in more hours, or show up differently, then the most effective way to get them on board is to let them see you doing it first. The same goes for supportive resources you want to encourage, like taking paid time off—team members will hesitate to take advantage of these chances to rest and come back refreshed if they don’t see their leaders using personal days.
Be wildly flexible. This one may be controversial, but I believe that being flexible with team members from the start inspires loyalty and better work in the long run. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being micromanaged or treated like a child with a highly orchestrated schedule. Instead of requiring your team to earn flexibility, offer them trust and flexibility until it’s been abused in some way. A recent Prudential study found that 68% of surveyed workers preferred a hybrid work model that gave them the chance to work from home and from the office. So be flexible and don’t try to pretend like last year never happened.
Over communicate! Many leaders are caught up in their experience—they have so many things to do, are carrying so much weight of responsibility, are worried about how their team’s performance reflects on them. They’re so caught up in their own world and ego that they forget that their job is to focus on the team. Share often, consistently, and predictably. Offer context when possible. State what seems like the obvious. It isn’t to everyone, and repetition hurts nobody.
Ask your team what they need—and then advocate for it. My first job was as a cocktail waitress, and one night I was thrown behind the bar to make drinks. I didn’t know how to make drinks, and my manager told me to ask the customer how. Turns out this is NOT a great strategy for bartending—but you’d be amazed how often it’s a valid strategy in management. Don’t try to read your people’s minds, just ask them what they need or what a solution might be whenever they come to you with a problem. With time, they’ll start to come with solutions in hand, not just problems.
Value innovation & practice it even when it’s inconvenient. Sometimes our team has a great idea on a project that’s super tight on a deadline. Make space for the idea. Whenever possible, honor an innovation opportunity so that your team feels like they have space to thrive in their role. Shoot their ideas down too often, and they stop thinking outside the box.
All of these tools will be critical in 2021 as we attempt to rewrite a ton of our workplace expectations, norms and values. You can support your team as boss by getting back to some of these basics.
Looking for other ways to support your team and grow as a leader? I can help! Head to my Book A Call page to apply for a free call where we’ll discuss your unique challenges as a woman in leadership, and what coaching can do to help!
My name is Laura Weldy, and I’m a women’s leadership coach. I help women in the workplace become confident leaders by tackling their mindset head on so they can think like a leader before they have the job title. I do this through professional coaching, virtual coaching, small group masterminds and powerful courses. If you’re looking to become more successful and fulfilled at work, let’s talk! I’d love to help you build an action plan for success. Click here to apply for a free coaching consultation with me directly!