Researchers from the London Business School recently completed some very interesting work on the topic of becoming a great boss. Many books have been written on this topic but I think the following four principles that emerged from this research do a terrific job of isolating the core competencies necessary to excel in leading a group of people to great results.
1.) Be Authentic – The route to becoming a great boss starts with knowing and managing yourself. We have all met leaders who can speak to a large group with conviction and authority, but come across as cold and impersonal when talking one to one. It’s hard to relate to people like this. Instead, we warm to self-aware leaders who can admit to struggling with tough decisions and come across as human. Probably the best way to describe this attribute is authenticity. Be yourself and people will be much more comfortable with you and willing to share their ideas and work for the team’s goals.
2.) Carefully Manage the Problems at Hand – Good managers know how and when to intervene. Sometimes a light touch is right, while other situations require more involvement – and more developed problem solving skills. There are common steps that you should make sure are occurring, such as identifying the root cause of the problem, communicating a clear description of the desired final result, and developing and executing the plan of attack. The important thing is to keep the focus on making sure progress is being made.
3.) Calmly Managing Stress and Change – How you handle setbacks will determine your effectiveness as a boss. We are living in a fast changing world where leaders frequently have to quickly change course to deal with unexpected opportunities or challenges. Managing when times are good is one thing; it’s when things go wrong that a person’s leadership qualities are revealed for all to see. Calmness and the ability to think clearly under fire are key attributes for a leader shepherding a team through a crisis. Resilience is key. The ability to bounce back and pull positive outcomes out of an initial adversity is a matter of clear goals, positive attitude, skill, experience, self-confidence and support from people around you.
4.) Get the Best from Your Team – Managing is often described as an unnatural act, since it requires people to behave in ways that don’t come easily. Often, managers are promoted to senior positions after exceling in specific roles. Leading others requires a completely different skillset: developing clear goals and an implementation plan, praising or critiquing people’s performance in a thoughtful way and in investing time in their personal development. If you want to get the best out of your team, effective delegation is perhaps the most important skill you can learn. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything yourself; you have people around you to share the load, so use them.
All of this represents wise advice from the London School of Business. It takes some humility to constantly practice these four principles but the payoff will be huge.