RRGwrites

On life…and learning

Posts Tagged ‘Great Boss

Never Work With A Powerless Boss…

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Indecisive Leader 2In my earlier blog on what I learnt from my Great Bosses, I wrote about a lot many things these leaders did in their daily lives, which helped me and other team-mates do better in our work and careers thereafter.

One quite important attribute I wish to add to the list – great bosses are those who are decisive in nature and do not try to please everyone. They carefully consider all the aspects and then reach a thoughtful decision. And it is not that they do so in an autocratic manner – they partner, communicate and collaborate extensively before a decision is arrived at. And once a decision is taken or a path is chosen, they do not waver, in a vain want of everyone’s alignment at every step of implementation. I understand that a supervisor who changes his or her mind often and shoves his team in myriad directions based on new feedback at the drop of a hat, and never seems convinced of the appropriate direction, will make his team uncertain about every decision and hence, would adversely impact their action-orientation and productivity. By asking them to begin, then review & restart, and change direction, such weak managers alienate their team-mates… and in the process, they often end up killing the zeal of many.

When I say that one should never work for a powerless boss, I absolutely do not refer to the word ‘power’ in the strict sense of the word. In fact, I strongly believe a powerful boss is one who is decisive and has the caliber and maturity to stand for a decision taken, without being irresolute – wavering between conflicting positions or courses of action – often trying to please everyone, including his own boss. A powerful boss will be respected amongst his seniors and peers for his ability to charter courses and guide his team, and will earn his team the same respect. A powerful boss will be mature enough not to avoid reasonable conflict when necessary during the execution phase; he would rather treat such conflict as positive and ensure everyone stays on course.

Working for a weak boss will only make you weaker by the day… you will keep running in circles to get your work done and please everyone; and I must say, during the same time, another decisive and powerful supervisor will take his team ahead…

This is what I think. I would be keen to know your observations and experiences. Are you working for a weak boss or a decisive one?

How Will You Fare As A Boss, As Compared to Your Own Boss?

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Time for LeadershipHow often you’d observe someone cribbing about his or her boss? Quite ubiquitously, you’d say. And how often YOU would do so yourself – crib and find follies in your own boss?

Every day, I meet a LOT of people complaining and finding errors in their bosses. However, in my experience, only a rare few also try and look inside inwards, check their own leadership styles and introspect, asking self, “What kind of a supervisor am I?” and “How do I better myself so that at least my juniors do not crib and complain against me, especially for the same very things that I find objectionable in my boss…”

Now, isn’t that’s one hell of a difficult question to ask self?

This one is to all the supervisors, bosses, managers and leadership aspirants – let’s spend some time introspecting on this moot question, at the very outset of this brilliant, promising new year 2014, and become better people leaders.

To help you begin this journey of introspection, I am leaving you with what F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the finest American authors of the 20th century, wrote in his novel, ‘The Love Of The Last Tycoon’:

“Credit is something that should be given to others. If you are in a position to give credit to yourself, then you do not need it.”

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Image-credit: practiceprinciples.net

What My Best Bosses Taught Me…

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Leader TeacherIn my eight years of working life, I worked with some superb leaders. However, my first Manager will always be very close to my heart; he was the one who picked me right after the MBA-school and taught me the grind of the corporate world. A really demanding guy he was; his toughness ensured I learn everything the right way. There were no short-cuts allowed. He motivated and pushed me hard. In short, he shaped my career and my thought-process for the formative years.

After four years, I met another superb leader, who hired me to be the part of his dream-team, and took me to an altogether next level of learning and performance. Unlike my first boss, he was far younger, albeit an equally strong leader. He taught me another set of valuable lessons, and refined me into a better professional and a leader.

From a young, raw, inexperienced management trainee to now a people-leader myself, these two bosses left an indelible impression on my professional and personal lives. Here, I am sharing some of the key things they taught me; some very simple things they said and did proved to be the most effective learning later.

As a young management trainee, here is what I learnt from my first boss…

  • Whatever is worth doing, it’s worth doing in a process-oriented manner – create processes for everything you do.
  • Be a subject matter expert – there is nothing better than knowing your job the best.
  • Be in office at least one hour before an important presentation. Visit the room where the meeting is scheduled; check the projector, see if it works fine with your laptop. That’s being ready and being on-time…
  • Either you work hard for the first 20 years of your life and enjoy the rest of it, or you enjoy the first 20 years and you would find yourself working very hard to live your rest of the life.
  • If you don’t really know the business by the back of your hand, you aren’t the HR guy business would want to have on their team.
  • Never accept mediocrity – it is infectious like a disease.
  • A good leader never worries about his goal-sheet; he just helps members of his team achieve their goals; his get automatically done!
  • Never mess with the happy situation, specially, while deciding compensation and benefits.
  • If you are signing a document, writing an email, making a ppt – anything that carries your name, watch out for all the silly mistakes – spellings, fonts, formatting, grammar – they all make a dent. Positive or negative – you need to decide.

And the next Boss taught me these…

  • We do strategy only two days every year – rest 363 days we need to ensure impeccable execution.
  • People don’t have any control over who would become their boss; they learn to put up with whomsoever the organization puts over them. But they surely will not accept all bosses as their ‘leader’. Being the boss is easy, be the leader…that’s really difficult. But then, why would you want to do an easy job anyway?
  • Age really doesn’t determine maturity and years of experience are no measure of talent and capability.
  • Never hire people in your team who are any lesser competent that you. Hire people better than you, and make it a habit.
  • When in retail, spend maximum time travelling to stores; talking to people, spending time working on the floor – that’s where real action is, that’s where real ideas and results will come from.
  • Don’t start any major activity or a plan if you do not envision it running for at least five years. Dream big, plan right, look ahead…
  • Guard your team’s reputation like your own. If your team is right, no one should be able to touch them. If they aren’t right, you should be the only one reprimanding them, not others…
  • A leader not only needs to be fair, he must also appear fair.
  • It’s OK to fail at times; just don’t miss capturing the learning.
  • If all the sub-teams are not connecting in a ‘boundary-less’ manner, they aren’t forming one team for sure. Invest time and energy in making all sub-teams work together cohesively, and you’d build the most competent team ever…

While both these men belonged to different age-groups, background and experiences, they had many things in common – they were both voracious readers, always willing to learn new things and better themselves. They were quite punctual and orderly, and valued others’ time like their own. They were big men with small egos, and carried no chip on their shoulder about the designations, cabins, et al. Both were true to their words, and always came back when they said they would. Both spent more time in building careers of their team-mates than their own. And above all, they both never shied away from accepting responsibility, living up to what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says “I was beaten,” he does not say “My men were beaten.”

Many of these things I learnt by observing them. And when these two leaders spoke, I heard them loud and clear. Sometimes, it took me a while, even a long time in few cases, to realize the importance, for the impact of there words to sink in. It took me while to imbibe some of these learning and change my behaviour…but I now can see why some of these learning are real pearls of wisdom. I now enjoy practicing them, and reap the benefits.

I learnt several other things from my other managers too, and while I am still learning, something I’d never stop; I’ll be forever grateful to these two gentlemen, who taught me some really valuable work & life lessons.

Those are my learning from my best bosses. Now it’s your turn. Which of these learning speak most to you? I am sure you too worked with some great bosses; what are your experiences? Let me know in the comments below- and here’s to all of us becoming better leaders!

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