How to Be an Awesome Boss: Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Leadership

Create a company culture that inspires your team to thrive (and not throw darts at your picture)

by Maria Kubitz

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You made it!

You’ve reached a point of success in your career where, for the first time, you’re in the position of leading and managing others. It doesn’t matter whether you’re leading a small team or a bigger army of folks; they’re all looking to you for guidance, support, and, well… inspiring leadership.

And – if you’re anything like I was at the moment you take on this role – I imagine you’re scared shitless.

Scared that despite your awesomeness as a human being, you might end up being one of those bosses.

We’ve all had them.

Crappy managers. Who sucked every last ounce of joy out of our jobs and made us want to quit.

Let’s face it. The people you manage are either going to love you and sing your praises to each other, or despise you and curse your name under their breath every time they see you coming. Yes, I’m being extreme…but there isn’t much of a gray area in between.

In every work situation I’ve been in (and I started working at a pretty young age), you either love your manager or you tolerate your manager. The latter slowly erodes away and turns into dislike… and then goes sour from there.

An April 2015 Gallup poll showed that 50% of U.S. adults quit a job to get away from their manager. That’s HALF the workforce, people!

But not you. You’re going to be the other type of manager. The kind that inspires people to want to come to work every day.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

Before I give you the list of qualities you need to learn and practice to become a great, effective, and inspiring team leader, you need to understand what is it that makes bad managers… well… bad?

Let’s break it down by the type of crappy manager we’ve all run into at one point or another.

The Workaholic is the one who emails or texts their staff at all hours of the day and night and expects an immediate response. Workaholics have NO sense of personal boundaries and not only make their employees miserable, but their employees’ families as well.

The Micro-manager wants everything done their way; and they will watch you like a hawk to make sure you’re actually doing it their way. So much so, they may actually take what you’ve done and “fix” it… leaving you wondering, “Why the hell did I just waste my time on that?” Micro-managers usually leave you feeling frustrated and full of self-doubt.

The Bully manager is much like the bullies you dealt with on the playground. They intimidate, publicly humiliate, and often take employees’ ideas and pass them off as their own. They may curse, shout, and throw full-blown tantrums if they feel they’re not getting the results or behavior they want from employees. They can leave you in tears or ready to run the other way every time you see them coming.

The Blamer generally doesn’t answer your questions, respond to emails, or share essential information to get the job done, and then uses you as a scapegoat when the project they’re “managing” fails. You’re left to silently seethe while taking the blame for their inept management skills.

The Grinch never offers an ounce of acknowledgement or praise for a job well done by their employees. Either they don’t know how to say “thank you” in any meaningful way, or are oblivious to the common sense idea that people who work their asses off for you want and deserve a kind word about it every now and again.

Unfortunately, many bad bosses share more than one of these traits, making your life miserable on multiple fronts.

Just by caring to read this article, I know that you’ll never be one of those managers. But just how exactly do you become the best boss your employees have ever had?

Aside from not being like any of the bosses previously mentioned, here are a handful of qualities that every great leader possesses and exudes that inspire and bring out the best in others.

As a great leader, you need to be:

Humble enough to know your success as a company is built upon the shoulders of those who work tirelessly for you.

Clear with your communication and not assume your employees can read your mind or have all the information they need to get the job done. If you don’t know what information they need… ask. Communicate early and often to set them up for success.

Trusting that your employees are great at doing what you hired them to do, and make them feel empowered to make smart decisions after you give them initial guidance, guidelines and goals.

Flexible in your approach to managing different personalities. Every person is unique and has specific needs from a manager to be most effective. Take the time to learn everyone’s personal style and needs and then adjust your approach to best support them.

Appreciative of your employees for the dedication and work they do to contribute to the company’s success; and show it in ways that let them know exactly how you feel.

Generous with sharing that appreciation as well as the fruits of success with the employees that made that success possible – and not just the glorified top-producing sales staff.

Honest in everything you do. You don’t need to tell employees every little detail of the business, but the minute you mislead or withhold important information, you’ll start losing their trust; and once trust is lost, it’s usually lost forever.

Compassionate and aware of how your employees are feeling. Take the time to get to know them and show you really care about their well-being.

Ultimately, great managers and leaders are the ones who continually work toward creating appreciative environments that motivate and inspire.

Ready to be the next great manager? One good habit to start is at the end of each day, ask yourself:

  • Did you take the time to interact with everyone on your team to show them you care and appreciate them?
  • Did you give them your time and attention when they needed help or guidance even if you were really busy?
  • Did your interactions with your team leave them feeling inspired, motivated, and valued?

If your answer is “yes” to each question, you can feel confident that you’re on the right track to becoming the best manager and leader your team will ever have.

Have anything to add to this list or an example you want to share? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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Maria Kubitz
With over twenty years in a successful marketing communications career at companies ranging from huge corporations like Hewlett-Packard to small startup environments with less than ten people, Maria has seen first-hand what works and what doesn't. In 2012, Maria launched a grief support website where her honest, heartfelt writing has helped ...read more

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Read 7 comments

  1. Esther Diaz
    says

    Great points! Thank you for sharing them. I truly agree with all of them. Also, leadership is communicating to another person their worth and potential so clearly they are inspired to see it in themselves. Amazing read. Cheers!

  2. Bunny
    says

    I am fortunate that my church has the qualities you list, although I don’t think inclusion has been truly tested. I would agree with Matt’s additions, particularly (2). This is where I feel didfstisaies. Worship does not speak to me. I am not fond of the contemporary, wall to wall music at our church. Many love it, but I find it jarring after a while. I put up with that because of the beautiful outward focus of the church.

  3. Christina
    says

    Your personal experience of becoming scared that you would be a boss which you yourself would have hated was an interesting one. Your tips on flexibility, trust, and appreciation could be very useful for first-time managers and bosses.
    Christina recently posted…Managing from the Inside Out written by Jim HornickelMy Profile

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  5. Jaret
    says

    Hey I am for the first time here. I found this board and I to find it really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something again and aid others such as you helped me.

  6. Morgan
    says

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Enhancing your skills as a leader is a timeless task that involves constant growth and a willingness to learn from others. It’s important to engage in conversation and create relationships with those who you are working with and make sure you are treating everyone with respect. Very nicely said! Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

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    Nothing I could say would give you undue credit for this story.