Bikram Vohra (BEING IN CHARGE)
14 January 2011
Are you the sort of person who has subordinates in a huddle all the time — or do you inspire
confidence and goodwill? read on...
What makes a good boss? There is no real answer and much would depend on whether you are seeking a leader, a commander, a guide or a mentor, or just somebody up there to cover for you.
At one such seminar, there was a great deal of tossing ideas about and everyone had an opinion on what makes the ideal boss (do unicorns exist?) but there was an easy consensus on the basic qualities. People came up with unimaginative dross like he must be fair and have a plan and be transparent and all that stuff, but having sloshed through the basic a certain agreement was reached. A boss must have intrapersonal skills. He must maintain morale. He cannot be pompous and distant, nor should he allow familiarity to breed contempt. He is visible, involved, never panics and cares for the welfare of his team.
If it is of any interest to you as a boss or someone hoping to become one, or even if you are one of those ‘in charge’ types whose decisions affect others, you may care to see how you measure up on the Seven Scale.
1. A good boss leads from the front. He doesn’t expect you to do what he cannot himself achieve nor does he run things from an armchair’s perspective. Leading from the front need not necessarily mean getting shop soiled or mucking in with the workers and trying to get a ‘popular’ tag. It means being responsible for your people, backing them against your bosses and ensuring their job security. That’s primary as a requisite.
2. Equally, a good boss does not order or demand respect. He gets it because he is au fait with his work and can be relied on to deliver the goods. If the staff know he can beat them at their jobs, and he does his homework, they will walk up the hill with him.
3. In third position is corporate constancy. This is vital to being a good boss and very few attain it. The moment the chief begins to play favourites and gives juniors extra-constitutional authority, and has his informers and encourages office politics, and has an open ear to gossip and rumour, you can write that company off. It might be making money but it is no place to work. So many potentially good bosses suffer from a shortage of self-esteem and fall prey to sycophancy, needing that fix of flattery from lick-spittling acolytes whose only chance of survival lies in being toadies.
4. Top notch bosses are never rude with their subordinates, nor do they use their staff for private purposes, abuse them verbally or be disparaging. No one works for you if you insult them. Equally, and this applies largely to men, only the most despicable boss takes advantage of female staff and misuses a position to harass them. Remember, people can forget what you say to them but they never forget how you made them feel.
5. And when the chips are down, a boss worth his salt doesn’t sacrifice members of his staff to save his mangy little skin. Here, take two of my chaps, sack them, it’s their fault, I am only the boss. The buck stops with you, friend and if you can’t take the heat of being the boss then step down and let someone else do the job.
6. Perhaps the most underplayed element, often so subtle it goes unobserved, is honesty; an across-the-board company ethos which the boss manifests. Does he lie? Are his work ethics questionable? Does he have different rules for different people? Does he cheat, deceive, and still spray piety? If he does, and you know it, get out or be ready to be served up if things go wrong; he will think nothing of framing you.
7. Finally, salaries. You may be the best boss in the world with great ideas and a wonderful manner that charms the rank and file but you don’t count for much if you do not pay your people on time. That is crucial. The ones who delay, cut money for trivial indiscretions and provide low financial incentives can never hope to make the cut into the good boss team.
So how did you do? Better than expected or is
there some serious rethinking required?
How good a boss are you? Choose the
response which you agree with the most:
1. Harry is often late for meetings. How do you respond?
a. Give him a public dressing down; you have an example to set
b. Meet privately and explore the issue
c. Show up late yourself, let him see how it feels
2. Your secretary has overbooked your day — yet again. Clients are upset and, frankly, so are you.
a. “The only thing you’re any good at is Facebook!” you yell in front of a shocked workplace
b. You ask to speak to your secretary privately at the end of the day to sort out how the two of you can figure out a solution
c. You say nothing and just try to clear through the backlog as fast as you can
3. A departing staffer asks for a reference letter. What do you do?
a. Mutter a quick prayer that he forgets he’s asked you for a letter, and go on with your life
b. Do what you promised: write a thorough and well thought-out letter
c. Dig out the forgettable, cliché-ridden letter you wrote for the last person who left, change the name and feel that you’ve fulfilled your obligation.
4. Ideally, job specifications mean this to you ...
a. Pointless — you know your job, just do it
b. Agreed and reviewed weekly
c. A boss’s best chance to give feedback
5. Do you ask others for their opinions and suggestions?
a. No — because if I do, the others may get ideas of grandeur
b. Regularly, everyone’s opinion matters
c. Mostly yes, but I take all the major decisions
6. Setting staff salaries is important, and in an ideal world, an ideal boss like you would set salaries according to ...
a. Market rates
b. Contribution and market rates
c. Time spent with the company
7. Sophia out-performs everyone else in the team, so a good manager would ...
a. Dine with her often
b. Encourage her to help others with their work
c. Delegate the bulk of their work to her
8. The best way a good leader can earn respect from the team is to ...
a. Never explain, never apologise
b. Show by example how to behave
c. Know all the technical answers before anyone else
You are not a good boss and should perhaps consider stepping out of the shoes
You are a great boss
You are a good boss but there is always room for improvement