What does it take to become a great boss? A recent study by CareerBuilder.com (as mentioned in a Forbes article) found that 58% of managers received no kind of management training.
This type of organizational behavior lends credence to the concept of the Peter Principle. While they may be promoted for their technical or professional prowess, new managers are often ill-equipped and under-coached to handle the people management aspect of their job.
The concept of a “great boss” is flawed in itself. It implies superiority and for the employee, a sense of being subservient. Here’s 3 quick tips to understanding the roles of those in charge and who their primary focus is on:
Boss = Themselves: A boss wants people to know they are in charge. Phrases such as “I’m the Boss” and “Stop bossing me around” amplify this concept. Even organized crime recognizes the power of claiming the title of boss. This role is focused on establishing yourself as the rule maker and the one in power. It automatically creates a barrier between you and those in your charge. Do you truly want to run (or work for) an organization that a new employee’s first interaction with you is one of subservience?
Manager = The Work: A manager oversees the work and the people doing it. Their focus is to see that the work gets accomplished, and because of that, their level of people skills can significantly vary. There is a sense of guidance and hands-on involvement that comes with management. Now this doesn’t equate to being in the details, but requires at minimum, a relative knowledge of the project or process. The question then becomes, has the manager been effectively trained to understand the work AND the people performing it?
Leader = The People: A leader leads the people. True leaders want their employees to do their job, and to do it for themselves. As a child, you are taught to follow the leader. This is because the leader knows the way and will show you the way. Leaders choose to be right alongside their subordinates or peers and are often effective even when they are not actively performing a function. Employees take confidence in leaders who support them and show genuine interest in their well-being.
Becoming a great boss should never be the goal of anyone in a senior-level role. You will never get the best of what they offer by simply being someone they have to answer to. Managers can be leaders, and leaders can be managers. However, a boss can never be a leader.