The Strategist

What Stops You From Being a Good Boss?

03/07/2016 - 14:00

Bruce Tulgan, recognized as an expert on leadership and management, argues about many modern management concepts. Here are a few myths that, in his opinion, only interfere with being a good head of a company.

Kumar Appaiah via Flickr
Kumar Appaiah via Flickr
The myth of empowerment: it is necessary to get rid of micro-management, leave people alone and let them take control by themselves.

This is false understanding of the empowerment, and myth number one in any working environment. How does it look in reality? Almost everyone starts to work better with availability of tasks, direction and support of a more experienced person. So why do managers so often suppress their own instincts and do not take a more decisive role? That is because they follow the mantra of false notions of empowerment. However, when all chiefs take responsibility, employees often begin to quote them the same mantra and bridle: "You don’t have to monitor everything!"

Imagine that an employee must coordinate with his manager every step before taking simplest decisions or performing routine actions. Is this an example of micromanagement? No. If an employee is unable to make even simple decisions or perform activities of daily living independently, it is almost always triggered by the fact that the manager have not prepared him for this in advance. Someone needs to tell him: "If there is A, do B. If there is a B, do G. If there is D, do E."

Someone needs to explain in detail to the person what to do. Someone has to make sure that the employee understands how to perform his tasks and responsibilities. Someone should give him tools and techniques for the job. It’s as clear as a day that the manager has to be that ‘somebody’.

The myth of justice: treat all employees equally and encourage each member of the team.

Trying to hide behind the false honesty means that the majority of managers are unable or unwilling to give employees an extra reward for that something done in excess of expectations. Of course, you cannot encourage everyone, so most managers go the easy way and decide to ‘treat everyone equally’ . As a result, people with low and medium capacity enjoy roughly the same incentives as highly productive employees. Highly productive employees start to get frustrated and angry. The bottom line: managers are unable to provide the best workers with flexible conditions required for hard and productive work. Thus, they deprive themselves of a key tool for employee motivation.

What would be fair? Do more for some people and less for others, basing on results of their work.

The myth of bureaucracy: managers cannot become strong because of many factors beyond their control.

Many managers say that, despite all their sincere efforts, they are deterred by the rules, bureaucratic delays and contracts. By the way, some bosses are using this as an excuse that allows them not to engage themselves in management. Almost always, such people are neighboring with leaders, capable of working in the same organization with the same rules, the same bureaucracy and the same papers. It is difficult, yet they still overcome obstacles, because that is their job.

How can you act in such conditions? Learn the rules and try to apply them to your advantage. Find people who can help you to understand the rules and learn how to apply them in the work, such as any of HR-department representatives, a lawyer, someone from the worker union, your own boss, after all.

Remember that there is always something you cannot do. Simply don’t do it! Otherwise, you will get in trouble. Often, however, you can do something that you wouldn’t even expect from yourself. All you need is to understand how to implement it.

The myth of the good guys: you can be strong only when you're acting tough, but you still want to be a good guy.

Many managers behave like fools. This is not evidence of their strength. It only means that they are perceived as fools. But what’s underneath? Really good managers do their best to help their employees succeed. This in turn helps better serve customers and earn higher rewards.

Why managers sometimes behave improperly? Some people revel in their high position, it's an incredible treat for their ego. It makes us feel important and gives a chance to have ascendancy over others. In their view, it is an original version of the good old school bullying in the new working conditions. Such behavior can only be seen as irresponsible and destructive.

There is another extreme - surprisingly widespread phenomenon called "fake nice guy complex." Managers of this type refuse to make decisions, give orders and responsibility to people. They tell themselves that they are doing so because they just do not want to look bad or want to have the image of a pleasant man. They have convinced themselves that being a chief is not quite good for some reason. The power of one person over another looks like a mistake to them.  

Oh really? Then why do you go to a restaurant and start to give orders to the waiter? Because you pay for the restaurant service and food. The waiter, in turn, receives a salary. Nothing personal. This is a business relationship. Similarly, your credibility as a chief do not require the superiority of cosmic proportions.

Employment is a business relationship, just like relationships with customers. Those, whom you manage, receive money for their work. This is the main source of your power, that's all. Nothing personal.
The myth of a natural leader: I'm not particularly good in management

There is a widespread theory that some people are born to be leaders, and therefore there are native ideal manager in the world. Others, meanwhile, are not destined to be great. However, many natural leaders are not perfect managers.

Top managers are people who study proven management performance techniques and then apply them in their lives, until they get skills and practice them until the skills become habits.

Of course, some people have a great vision, charisma, ability to communicate their thoughts and generate ideas, or to fill others with their energy. They know how to motivate. They are masters of inspiration. However, this does not necessarily make them good managers. More often, these great leaders are successful precisely because they are smart enough and employ different managers, charging them with the administrative processes.

Management consists of routine, but absolutely necessary aspects of leadership: determining direction and guidance, empowering employees with responsibility, overcoming setbacks and reward subordinates for success. Almost anyone can become a good manager. How? Learn proven techniques and then practice.

Based on 'It's Okay to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need' by Bruce Tulgan

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