Being a good boss isn’t just the right thing to do, but it also inspires better performances from your team members and increases the chances of success for your organization.
Business Leaders Give Advice on How to Be a Better Boss in 2021
To be a better boss in 2021, there are plenty of lessons to apply from the events of 2020 and otherwise. We spoke with top business leaders on the topic of being a great boss – stay tuned to hear their advice.
If you don’t set clear expectations for the people around you, how can you expect anything from them in return? This seems like an obvious tenet of management, but it’s often overlooked.
“Managing what you expect from others will help you become a better leader and is essential to success as it brings organizational goals into focus,” said Andrew Bernstein, Co-Founder, and CEO of Kinder Beauty. “
The best leaders are often those who establish and communicate clear and achievable expectations because that is the best way to hold people accountable in a meaningful way and allow others to understand what is required of them in order to accomplish desired outcomes for your organization.”
Keep your expectations reasonable and be transparent – you’ll be appreciated for your efforts.
Above and Beyond
The equation of expectations goes both ways, of course. Ask what your employees expect from you so you never let them down.
“If we consistently exceed the expectations of employees, they will consistently exceed the expectations of our customers,” said Shep Hyken, CX Expert and Speaker.
When you can meet and exceed all expectations, success is just a matter of time.
Be a Teammate
The idea of a “boss” can have negative connotations, so consider reframing your role in the company and how you interact with your staff members.
“Stop thinking of yourself as a ‘boss’ and start looking at yourself as a teammate that others can rely on,” said Carrie Derocher, CMO of TextSanity.
Remember that nobody wants to be bossed around, but everyone wants a great teammate they can trust.
Honest and Accountable
The more you can share with employees about key goals, objectives, and metrics, the better. They will find out one way or another, so be upfront and don’t keep secrets.
“Transparency is key to becoming a better leader and it’s what makes companies accountable,” said Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO, and Nurse Practitioner at Skin Pharm. “Being accountable ensures that they are being held responsible for the impact of their actions, which will boost credibility with their existing and potential employees and consumers.”
Not everything needs to be shared with employees, but you’ll find that a bit more transparency will serve you well.
A tough boss can command respect, but it needs to be balanced with compassion. Aim to get the best performance from your staff without being pushy or micromanaging.
“Managing people is a lot like managing yourself in many cases,” said Jeff Brown, President of Big Fig Mattress. “Speak to your team members in a kind and compassionate way, be honest about your intentions and goals, and apply some positive pressure when it’s time to perform.”
Think about how you’d like to be treated as an employee and use that as a template for your approach to leadership.
Many bosses are quick to give feedback but aren’t so eager to hear it about themselves. Make a habit of asking for feedback and be ready to implement changes fast.
“Average bosses wait for feedback from employees, while great bosses actively seek it out and try to improve daily,” said Jordan Smyth, Founder, and CEO of Gleamin. “Be the type of boss that people feel comfortable talking to about any issue or concern.”
Your employees are valuable sources of feedback on many key issues, so use this resource to your advantage whenever possible.
Don’t Chase Perfection
Perfectionism is the most common cause of stress for bosses everywhere, and it ends up damaging performance over time. Learn to roll with the punches and move onto the next thing.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect boss or manager, so don’t beat yourself up if you mismanage people or situations now and then,” said Bing Howenstein, Founder of All33. “The smart thing to do is simply learn the lesson and apply it next time so you don’t repeat mistakes.”
Remember that all great leaders hit roadblocks – they just bounce back with a plan.
Rather than focusing strictly on metrics and stats, try connecting with your staff members and peers, teaming up to take on big tasks and get things done. The results will come.
“Having effective communication skills helps build and strengthen connections and will make you a better leader,” said Shana Hall, Creative Director at Aurelle. “Effective communication helps you learn about and gain new business and maintain and cultivate important connections.
The ability to communicate with people is incredibly vital for establishing successful business relationships.”
When you have strong connections in the workplace and stay in sync with everyone on your team, you’re destined to succeed.
Is there someone you admire for their leadership skills or ability to manage people effectively? Try emulating their approach and add your own style to the mix,
“Think about the type of boss you want to be, then make small advancements toward being that person every day,” said Eric Wu, Co-Founder, and COO of Gainful. “You will only improve if you make that decision and stick to a strategy.”
People don’t become great bosses and leaders by accident, after all!
If there is an issue plaguing your business, don’t dwell on it for a second longer than necessary. Respond quickly and have unwavering confidence in your decision.
“Repetitive feedback is an indicator you haven’t got the basics right, and that’s something you have to address as a priority rather than ignore,” said Sian Townsend, Director of Research at Coinbase.
The longer you leave problems on the back burner, the worse they get, so don’t hesitate.
Ready to Pivot
It was the magic word that everyone talked about throughout 2020: pivoting. While many executives stepped down, others rose to the occasion and made crucial decisions at the right time.
“Be ready to change your leadership style or make pivots when needed,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder, and CMO of Hide. “Stubbornness can help you get things done in certain situations, but it’s more advantageous to be flexible and adaptable.”
We might not experience another 2020 anytime soon, but the possibility of a pivot is always looming overhead.
When there’s an unignorable issue or interpersonal problem in the workplace, you want to make your presence known as a leading figure and do whatever it takes to solve it. This requires tactful communication and smart maneuvering.
“Being a better leader means being a more effective communicator and creating a welcoming space where others feel comfortable speaking up in order for constructive conversations to thrive,” said Bill Yates, Executive Vice President of Velociteach.
Not every problem can be solved with your input, but at least step up to the plate.
You never want to be the boss who sits in the corner office, never to be seen. Jump into the action and show everyone what you’re made of.
“Don’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves and get directly involved in key projects from time to time,” said Peter Horvath, CEO of High Times. “This keeps you sharp and shows the people around you that your contributions are essential.”
When building a business, your involvement will be critical to success, so don’t be a stranger to your staff and peers.
Make the Call
Not all decisions you make as a manager will be perfect, and that’s okay. What matters most is that you make those decisions with confidence and don’t look back.
“Last year was a mess for many companies because people in leadership positions did not take the reins and make tough decisions,” said Anthony Puopolo, CMO of Rex MD. “It’s always better to make a fast, decisive choice instead of waiting and delaying until it’s too late.”
No need to be too hasty or speed through decisions either – smooth and steady wins.
If you’ve got the opportunity to reiterate a point or confirm something with an employee, don’t pass it up. These are the small but important interactions that glue everything together.
“Never miss a chance to connect directly with team members, supervisors, peers, or anyone within your organization,” said Darren Litt, Co-Founder of MarketerHire. “Being on the same page is so important, and you can’t afford to fall out of sync.”
Don’t be the boss that makes assumptions or takes things for granted – more communication is always better than the alternative.
We often preach the importance of over-communication, but quality counts as well. Make sure you’re speaking to coworkers and staff members with kindness and connect on a real level.
“Great leaders really know how to connect with their team by facilitating open, honest, and straightforward communication,” said Jordan Nathan, Founder, and CEO of Caraway.
“Effective leaders can have a significant impact on the team members they manage by not only offering feedback to their employees but by also listening to employee feedback as well as encouraging employee growth and development.”
A great boss will find that balance between communication quality and quantity – and make every word count.
Not sure how you’re doing as a boss or manager? You can learn a lot just by looking at how employees are conducting themselves at work and performing on key metrics.
“The attitude and approach of your employees is often a reflection of your leadership style and the energy you’re bringing to the table,” said Joshua Tatum, Co-Founder of Canvas Cultures. “Do some self-analysis and see how you can sharpen your management skills and be more accommodating.”
Not everything can be attributed to your efforts, but taking ownership is always a good habit to practice.
A boss that doesn’t respect employees is bound to run into trouble sooner or later. Respect is the glue that keeps everything together, whether it’s a small team or a major organization.
“Leading a group of people certainly requires a mutual respect and understanding between leaders and their team members,” said Patrick Crane, CEO of Love Sew. “If leaders learn to connect with their employees, they will effortlessly become better leaders.”
Are you committed to being a better boss in 2021? There is no time like the present to make a change for the better. Apply these lessons from top business leaders so that you and your team can take the company to the next level, whatever this means to you.
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