Becoming a Great Boss

When we were writing The Manager’s Answer Book, we gathered a lot of great questions that managers were likely to ask.  We interviewed other successful managers, and we drew from our own business experiences.  Once the book was published, we were the ones being interviewed about the book.

To celebrate National Boss’s Day, which falls on October 16 this year, we wanted to share some of our insights, recognizing that individuals are often promoted with little preparation or training.  They’re not prepared for managing themselves or others in the new role. 

So we looked back on some of the questions we were asked.  If you want to be noticed and acknowledged as a great boss, what’s the most important thing to do?  Well, you’ve got to develop a personal brand.

Why is having a personal brand so important?

As a manager, all eyes are on you.  You have to show you are credible and competent to be successful.  Your brand is how you present yourself—how you communicate, act and interact with others. Interactions aren’t limited to your staff, which are, of course, important. They also include interactions with people both inside and outside the organization. As a manager, you are representing the organization, so you always want to be mindful of how your actions uphold the organization’s positive culture.  Lead by example—others will follow and behave similarly. 

What traits are important in building a positive personal brand, and how should a manager exhibit those traits?

Clearly, at the top of the list are ethics and integrity. This means being true to your values and principles and making decisions that don’t contradict them.  Seek out people with common values, and respect the people around you. Avoid being judgmental of others.  Trustworthiness is also at the top of the list.  Maintain confidences, exercise discretion, and avoid rumors and gossip.  Listen to your staff, and be as transparent as you possibly can. Be fair and consistent with your staff, and admit when you are wrong.  And finally, have courage—show the confidence and integrity when you see something is wrong or not moving in the right direction to say something. Confront wrongdoing, no matter where it’s occurring. In addition, courageous leaders not only speak out and take an opposing point of view, they may also advocate for ideas and positions that might not appear to be popular.

Being a manager is hard work.  Being a great boss is even harder. So, celebrate great bosses on October 16.  Do something festive. Decorate their offices. Take them to lunch. And if you want to give them a gift, we’d be honored if you gave them a copy of The Manager’s Answer Book.

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