John Stancavage: Great managers focus on relationships, performance
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Sunday, February 24, 2013
2/24/13 at 6:49 AM
Last month Staff Writer Laurie Winslow wrote a cover story about the worst bosses of 2012, as compiled by eBosswatch.com.
It was a despicable group consisting of world-class megalomaniacs, bullies and sexual predators. Reading that list certainly would make you consider the relative safety of spending your career as a sole proprietor.
But there are good bosses out there, too. They may not always be easy to spot or fully appreciated, but they exist.
I say that because the best leaders don't always stand out in conventional ways - they may not be the loudest voice in the room or the one who gets in the last word. They don't make others tremble or brag about their superiority.
But if you look hard, you can see a lot going on beneath the surface. The bottom line is that the great manager gets things done. He or she has the knack of inspiring - rather than commanding - a team to work harder and accomplish more than they thought they could.
And when the job is done, those workers feel a sense of pride and satisfaction, rather than a burning desire to run out the door.
I had a terrific high school teacher who once told me that ancient Roman philosophers believed the best leader was the person who least wanted the position. This eliminates the egotists.
What else does it take to be a top manager? David Witt, program director with The Ken Blanchard Cos., recently addressed that question in the consulting firm's newsletter. Two characteristics stand out, he said.
The first is a strong relationship with subordinates. "People say their best boss cared about them, gave them opportunities, created a great working environment, made work fun and was flexible and supportive," Witt said.
The second is a focus on performance. "People will share that their work was important. Their boss expected a lot from them and saw qualities in them that they didn't necessarily see in themselves."
Great bosses had both characteristics. One without the other doesn't get the same results, he said.
Everyone can strive to become a better leader, Witt said. He offered these tips:
Set challenging goals. "Expect the best from people by setting goals that stretch their abilities."
Meet regularly. Conduct brief, focused meetings on a weekly basis.
Provide feedback. Celebrate and recognize achievements and provide redirection when necessary, Witt said.
Who are the best leaders you've ever seen? Send me your observations and stories via email, and I'll share some of them in the future.
Original Print Headline: Mark of a great leader is getting things done