Ho to be a Good Boss

If you’ve ever read The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley you’ll no doubt remember Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by (and probably Mrs Be-done-by-as-you-did – but that’s another subject!).

I’ve always believed Mrs D was on to something, and I’ve always tried to stick to that principle – on the basis that ‘being a good boss’ relies on creating a relationship based on trust and confidence that means people will always do their very best to deliver what you need them to deliver.

Of course not everyone is the same – and understanding what’s important to the individuals in your team is also key.  Rewards are only effective in achieving high levels of motivation if they are the rewards that a particular individual values – and it’s true – money is not the most important thing to everyone!  So if time is important to someone then give them time as a reward, if learning new things is important reward them with attending a course, or having some new software to play with.  The important thing is knowing what each person will value – and you can be fair to everyone without having to work on a ‘one size fits all’ basis.

When Jack Charlton managed the Irish national football team many years ago, you may recall (or not depending on how old you are!) that they enjoyed some significant success and punched above their weight for quite a time.  I remember Jack saying there were two reasons his team were performing so well. 

The first was making sure everyone knew exactly what was expected from them, on the pitch and off it, as individuals and a team.  In his case that meant keeping it simple, sticking to the game plan and not trying to be too clever - for businesses the principle is the same.  Make sure everyone knows their role, their goals and how their performance will be measured – give them a fighting chance of getting it right!

The second was to never let the team down – whatever you said you were going to do as a manager make sure you did it – your word was your bond.  Again the same is true in business.  If the boss doesn’t have that level of commitment then it’s not really surprising if others don’t feel it either.

As a leader or a manager, the boss has a tough job to do – and inspiration can come from the strangest of places!  So my challenge to you is 3 fold – know your team as individuals, make it clear what you expect from them and the team, and never let them down.  Oh, and read the Water Babies – see what other lessons it can teach us!

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