Early on in our careers, most of us fantasized at some point about being the boss – about dishing out orders, having the final say and just being altogether awesome. But that highly sought-after corner office isn’t always as glamorous as it might seem.
You see being the boss can be a very tricky business. Not only are leaders tasked with fulfilling their own set of responsibilities, but they’re also the last line of defense when it comes to the output of an entire team, and that’s a fairly hefty burden for even the broadest of shoulders to bear.
As a result, bosses get it wrong fairly often. They micro-manage, they snap, they get upset and they fly into panicked frenzies every now and then. Simply put, there’s a reason why movies like The Devil Wears Prada have captured our imaginations – we’ve all had that boss who could make our blood turn cold with a single stare.
Of course, as a leader, it’s probably best not to get yourself into a situation where your employees are either terrified or dosed up on anxiety medication. Being the boss isn’t just about barking orders – it’s about leading by example, and about championing the cause of those beneath you, propelling them to achieve and perform their roles to the best of their abilities.
If you’re looking to successfully lead a team, it’s important first and foremost that you understand that you’re there to serve your employees as much as they’re there to serve you. Dictatorships might have been all the rage in wartime Europe, but we all saw how that turned out, didn’t we? Ultimately, if you want to achieve great things on the frontlines of enterprise, you need to get into the trenches with your troops.
Success in the workplace today is only ever founded on mutual respect, trust and collaboration. So while you might have a million other things on your to-do list that feel a whole lot more important than managing your team, your immediate productivity gains will invariably turn into long-term losses if you alienate the very people you need to make you and your business successful.
So how do you ensure you’re leading your team successfully? Here are four ways to become a better boss:
TAKE A BREAK
Go on holiday? You? Never. Many bosses make the mistake of overburdening themselves with responsibility, passing up vacation time in favour of catching up on the 1 245 other pressing tasks that just seem a whole lot more urgent than catching a tan. Not only does this result in you becoming a stressed out mess (cue rants and tantrums), but it also subtly sends a message to your team that you don’t trust them to operate without you. The best way you can empower your people is to put them in charge every now and then, and let’s face it; a more bronzed, relaxed version of you is probably something your team will also appreciate.
So you’ve just had a go at Ahmed, your financial controller, who’s sent you an email inundated with smiley faces. You DESPISE emoticons, viewing them as entirely unprofessional – but did you ever let Ahmed know that? Many conflict situations in the workplace can be easily avoided by clear communication – essentially, if you want your employees to conduct themselves in a certain way, make sure you don’t keep that information to yourself. Keep your team in the loop when it comes to what does and doesn’t work for you, and they’ll not only feel more at ease interacting with you, but also better equipped to keep you happy and maintain a calm, productive working environment as a result.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Every boss will at some point encounter a situation in which an employee dramatically under performs or makes a colossal blunder that costs the business money. And while this isn’t even slightly ideal, great leaders see these slip-ups as learning opportunities rather than excuses to unleash a litany of expletives. Every scenario, no matter how dire, has positive elements to it, and if you want to be a great boss, it’s important that you remind the employee of these, and emphasise the areas in which they have succeeded (before telling them what not to do of course). A simple telling-off is just going to wreck your charge’s confidence, and ensure they never make bold moves or take risks under your command.
ADMIT WHEN YOU’RE WRONG
It might feel like a sign of weakness, but being transparent about your own flaws and failings can actually make you a stronger leader. Whilst it’s imperative that you inspire your team to greatness by setting an example, it’s equally important to show them your human side. Not only does this instill greater trust in you and establish you as a more authentic leader, but it also makes your team less afraid of failure, and thus more prone to thinking big and aiming high.