Good boss ... bad boss

Joe Sherren
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The behaviors of a good manager

I once had the opportunity to interview an amazing CEO who had a national reputation for being a turn-around leader who could take an organization from ordinary to great. When I asked what he thought was the one thing he did different from most leaders, which enabled him to get extraordinary performance from his employees, he said this:

“When things are going wrong (customers are upset, machinery breaks down, or the markets are depressed) I know my people are already feeling stressed. As a leader I can do one of two things, I can show my frustration, get upset and angry and put even more pressure on the people; or, I can do just the opposite and go around in a calm way and ask the staff, ‘How can I take pressure away from you to help make your job easier?’”

He said the workers usually said there was nothing he could do, but the simple fact he came around and asked made them feel better. The workers responded further with renewed focus on working through the crises at hand.

A great boss fundamentally believes that everyone has the ability to achieve extraordinary results given the right opportunity, the right circumstances, the right position and the right challenges. Extraordinary bosses truly get to know their people, find what their strengths are and then put them to good use.

Great bosses set a positive tone or culture for the team. They lead by example, remain positive and do not get stressed when things do not always go right. A good boss knows that workers will model the behavior of the leadership.

The best bosses do not tell their people what to do. They explain what they are trying to achieve, the importance of their contributions to these goals, invest in any necessary training and then provide confidence and belief in their people.

Dale Carnegie outlined 10 timeless principles for perfect human relationships, one of which is “Give people a high reputation to live up to.” Good managers do just that and back it up with support and encouragement to help employees achieve their aspirations.

The easiest thing for any boss to do for maximum returns in motivated workers is to provide recognition for their achievements — and it costs nothing. Every study into why people leave jobs, stay in jobs, excel in jobs, or “die” in jobs is linked to recognition.

With some people, they prefer this be done privately, but when you can, praise people publicly. Study after study shows that not even money has the motivating power of public recognition for a job well done.

The great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “The easiest way to knock a chip off someone’s shoulder is to let them take a bow.” Give even your lowest performing people the opportunity to do something right and praise them publicly. I guarantee, you’ll see their attitudes and behavior change.

Evolving from a good manager to an extraordinary boss requires nothing more than making a decision to do so. Do things that make your people look good and feel positive about what they are doing. This will result in a high-performing and dedicated workforce.

My question this week: “What are you doing to get extraordinary performance from your people and have them looking forward to coming to work each day?”


Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF. Book your seat at our upcoming Management Skills Development program scheduled for October 3-4 at Dalvay By The Sea. Call (902) 367-7789 for further information.

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Recent comments

  • To All Managers in PEI
    July 02, 2013 - 11:36

    Just a suggestion. Maybe this article should be tied in with the article, "treat them right and they will stay". Too often pei loses good people to bad bosses.