Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good boss Bad boss - Again!

Just to continue for a little while the nice feeling for getting a mention in the New York Times I am re-producing today my original posting from back in November. There have already been terrific comments but maybe some people haven’t seen this. I would love more comments.

My completely random thought for today has been about the features of the best and worst bosses I had during my long healthcare management career. So here goes ......

My best bosses
  • inspired confidence
  • were humble
  • had integrity
  • knew what they were talking about
  • let me get on with things
  • were always there when I needed help
  • usually said ‘yes, try it’
My worst bosses
  • never seemed to be around when I needed them
  • always asked me to justify what I wanted to do
  • always wanted to know what I was doing
  • often said ‘no, we can’t do that'
  • gave the impression of being distrustful
  • didn’t smile much
  • talked about themselves a lot

What features can you add to either list?


progmanager said...

Serious post Trevor. Did you see the name check that you got on Tom Peter's site from the man himself?

To try to add some value I am not so interested in the labels that we attach to good bosses (or the bad ones) as much as in the things that they do, the behaviours, that lead to the labels being sticking.

For example in a session on Managing Your Boss that I ran last week I asked the group about what their best managers did that made them so good. I got back the usual stuff (and some not so usual stuff) about passionate, visionary etc. I then worked the group quite hard to get them to say what did this person do, physically do, that made you think they were passionate? We then explored the corollary which is what sorts of things can you do as a manager to increase the odds that someone will label you as 'passionate' or 'visionary'?
By helping to explore the behaviours that drove the labels we were able to explore some really powerful and practical management development territory.

Trevor Gay said...

Many thank progmanager - Yes I saw the mention at Tom Peters Blog – I was pleased needless to say

I like your approach of looking at behaviours rather than people. I’m sure that is where we can explore this best.

I love how your session concentrates on the positive rather than looking at deficiencies. Most bosses want to do a good job – I can’t think anyone wants to do a bad job. Maybe bosses should be on your course alongside their employees to ensure managers have insight about what behaviours the employees want to see from managers!

Did you have a mixed audience of employees and managers?

progmanager said...

All were managers - but were attending a managing your boss workshop. And of course they were helped to recognise that what was true of their bosses was true of them. I teach a Jungian concept that suggests that whatever 'light' drives someone to success (strengths) will cast a long shadow (weaknesses). So a 'detail conscious' manager may appear to be a grim faced technocrat. A 'visionary persuader' may seem to be all talk.

I try to train people to look at everyone as having 'light' that will inevitably cast a shadow. Their task is then to recognise and value the 'light' while managing the consequences of the 'shadow'. However it is so ingrained into may to just look at the shadow and to discount the light. And it seems to be a reality that the greater the strengths the more obvious are the weaknesses. There really are no mountains without valleys.

Trevor Gay said...

Concentrating on the positive always works best. I always tell my kids they are great. I always say to them they can still improve but they always start from a position of being great. What possible motivation is there in ever telling anyone they are anything less than great?

Your teaching is wisely founded.

Marilyn said...

My Two Cents.....

*saw my potential when I didn't
*went to bat for me with superiors

*blamed others
*never recognized my talent or potential
*got there due to seniority alone

Thought provoking exercise!

John said...

Good boss is who like to listen to criticizes,and self criticizer. The bad boss may be the one always like to be surrounded with the people who say yes to his words even when he's wrong.
Breakdown Insurance

Trevor Gay said...

Thank you Marilyn – a brilliant additional list thanks. Six completely new points I had missed. Maybe I should write some more on this subject – it seems to generate interest – what do you think?

John – I agree with your points. Bosses who are not self deprecating but are prepared to believe they can be wrong always go up in my estimation and it must be absolutely awful as a boss to be surrounded by ‘yes men’ – the King's New Clothes story comes to mind …..

Marilyn said...

Dear Trevor,

Yes, I endorse your idea of writing about what makes a great boss. In this collaborative business environment, true leadersip is changing at lightening speed.

Another thought--you continue to learn from the very best bosses, long after you've moved on. My former boss knew full well I was moving across country in a few months and would be gone after the changes launched--no matter, she put me in charge of a huge project(s) with a tight deadline. That helped me grow enormously--you don't forget that boss!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Marilyn another great insight that I had missed - how to push someone who may not think they are ready o be pushed. You were obviously able to grow through that experience and you remember the boss in a positive light.

I remember early in my career getting a two step promotion and really panicking when it came to my first day. I began to have all sorts of self doubts. My boss told me he had appointed me because he was confident I could do the job. That made me feel so much better and I coped well from then on!