By Bryan Orr
As a leader, it’s healthy to take a step back and see if you’ve become “That Boss.” You know, the one that no one likes.
I worked at a large corporation for 5+ years, and it was easy to tell which management personnel valued employees. It was also easy to tell which ones had their egos all wrapped up in their jobs and allowed it to ooze forth every time you were in their presence.
When I started out as an entrepreneur, I made a personal resolve to not be “That Boss.” Lo and behold, that is easier said than done. After the first few years of doing whatever it took to get our business rocking, we came into a season where I was out in the field less. We had hired more people, and I was able to focus more on specific aspects of the business, without being constantly connected to every petty detail. Naturally, I was able to distance myself and tune into the more “macro” vision of the company.
This was a good thing, but it was startling to see how quickly I saw glimpses of my old bosses playing out in how I treated my employees. Here are four management behaviors to watch out for and avoid.
1. The Nasty, Knee-Jerk Emailer
Hate mail, threatening emails, and complaints from customers are never a fun reality of doing business. A tendency we may have as a leader is to immediately react toward the team member who was involved in this negative experience. I may want to forward the email to all employees so that they can see that someone isn’t doing their job right.
Instead, take some time to figure out the specific complaint/situation. After doing some tracking, you may be able to be more specific in which team member was involved. Then, pull them aside and point out what you appreciate about the action they took with a (sometimes very unstable or irrational) customer, and point out your thoughts on another viable option of handling it.
It now becomes a customer service learning experience instead of a bash fest.
2. The Blame Passer
When employees make mistakes and cause the company to look bad, we are the ones who get blamed because we’re the name behind the company. I may want to immediately pass the blame to someone else: A co-owner, a team member, the government, etc.
Here’s the thing. You have to take responsibility for error or perceived error in your business. Value others and realize that being a leader means owning responsibility and allowing room for human error. Swallow your pride and move on, striving to be better.
3. The Prima Donna
Don’t become too fancy for menial tasks. If you’ve come to a point that you’ve hired help to take on jobs that have given you freedom to focus in other areas, great. But don’t be too high and mighty to do the Yeoman’s work. Be willing to dive in now and then with the others and show that you are not above their work; you appreciate what they do. Sometimes there may be a temporary need to answer phones, run a service call, etc. Fill the need.
It’s amazing how much more respect I’ll get when I get back out into the field and work alongside a tech. I also like seeing that I can still relate to the tasks that are what make up much of the business.
4. The “Back in My Day” Reminiscer
If I am in a meeting with the team on Fridays, and they start to throw in a complaint or hardship, I immediately want to bring up the past and all the sacrifices I made. If they think it’s hard now, they should’ve been around in the day when I was in their shoes.
Here’s the thing. They don’t really care about what you went through. You don’t need to compare. You can listen if you want, but if it’s just an emotional response, it’s really not an issue and you can let it go. Eventually they, too, will have to let it go. Don’t always be on the defense.
Remember how powerful an encouraging word is. When you get a positive review, share the report with your team! I remember how great it was when a boss gave me genuine praise for a job well done. It inspired me to strive even more. By valuing others, you will naturally gain respect and will be less likely to be “That Boss.”
As should be our goal in leadership: “Create other leaders by having a heart for others.”