Scary bosses might get things done in the short term, but they do it at the expense of company culture. Barking orders and micromanaging won’t help you maintain authority either. In fact those behaviors only lead to poor relations with fellow employees, and yet the image your employees have of you is critical to the long term success of your team. The reality is when employees don’t trust their bosses or are afraid of them, the quality of the work suffers, disconnect and disengagement sets in, and eventually employees will leave. So, how exactly do you make sure you aren’t the scary boss? It’s simple: Just don’t be a boss.
Be a Leader, not a Scary Boss
Theodore Roosevelt once said “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” It’s important to get work done, but it won’t happen if you’re unable to inspire and motivate your employees. That’s where leadership comes in. Your people want to know that you have a plan, know how to execute it, can set them up for success and are there with them in the trenches as they get the work done. They want a positive example they can follow. So say NO to being scary and YES to leading. Here are some best practices to help you be an effective (and not scary) leader.
Communicate, Don’t Scarinate
Communicate, communicate, communicate. You’re juggling 10 different projects with 10 different dates of completion. To do this well you need to communicate with your team and ensure you have a grip on everything. Outside of work conversations, a good starting point is to get to know your employees. Learn about their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, when their birthday is, or their dog’s birthday. I don’t mean spending hours around the proverbial water cooler. Taking time to ask how someone is really doing can go a long way in letting them know you care. When people know you care, you won’t be scary.
Scary Bosses Don’t Build Trust
Your team is made up of smart, capable people. They know when you’re shooting straight with them and doing right by them. And, on the flip side, they know when you’re not. This is why honesty and integrity are at the top of any list of leadership attributes. To sidestep them is to cheat yourself and your team of what you and they could be. It’s important to create an environment where everyone knows they can speak up when they need to and you’ll listen. They need to know that you keep your commitments and that you have the hard conversations even when you don’t want to. Then and only then will they begin to trust you. And trust is kind of important since it’s the foundation for all great teams.
Treat Them With Respect
It seems like a no brainer, but a lot of us have had the…ahem…pleasure…of working with a boss that talks about coworkers behind their backs, discounts their ideas privately and publicly, and yells and belittles them in front of other people. Maybe we were once on the receiving end of all of that. None of those behaviors are synonymous with leadership, so don’t fall prey to them. Instead, treat people as if they matter to you, to the team, and to the organization as a whole. Then watch them stand up tall and be their best on behalf of you and your organization!
Confronting Issues Can be Scary
Confrontation is uncomfortable, especially when you’re telling someone they aren’t meeting your expectations. However, as a leader, you need to be able to do this. When getting to the root cause of a lack in performance, invite the employee to discuss what’s going on, and what problems they might be dealing with professionally or personally that are having a negative impact on them. Employees need to know that you are willing to listen. Sometimes, just taking the time for an employee to share their feelings, concerns, frustrations, etc. will enable you to get to the heart of the matter. At that point, the two of you can create a plan of action to move forward.
No More Scary Bosses!
We realize that it is sometimes scary to be the boss. And depending on your personality style, your stress behaviors may not be helping you out. Stress can bring out the worst in us, so start by managing yours. Then work to help your people manage theirs. By following the advice laid out in this article, you’ll be bringing out the best in your people and yourself. Then when Halloween rolls around, you can have confidence that your team won’t be making “scary” references about you, but rather your costume. : )
If you’ve ever had a sneaking suspicion that you may be a scary boss, let’s talk. We will help you soften those edges with transformational training through the Brilliant People Program.
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