iStock_000005390930XSmallI immensely enjoy opportunities to dialog with followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and this blog. Sometimes my #CoolCulture, #PositivityAtWork, #ValuesMatter, and #BestSelf tweets generate agreement from readers. Sometimes they do NOT.

Responses to my “great boss” tweets have typically enabled followers to describe how “less than great” their bosses are. I’ve experienced the same lousy boss behaviors that you probably have at some point in your career.

One of my lousy bosses made grand promises – to staff, to volunteers, to customers. However, he kept few of his commitments. I learned his word was not trustworthy.

Another lousy boss of mine was amazingly skilled at pointing out my mistakes and failures. However, he was quiet when I exceeded expectations and moved the organization forward. I learned to insulate myself from his presence because all I heard from him was disappointment.

My worst boss asked me to lie. My non-profit branch had raised $25,000 in our annual campaign my first year as executive director. That was double what the branch had raised before! At the campaign’s closing dinner, with 300 volunteers and staff in attendance, my boss told me to announce that we’d raised not $25,000, but $30,000. I refused and announced the real total. He was not happy; I didn’t care. Our values mis-match was deep and wide. I left that boss and job as quickly as I could.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had more than one great boss. My experiences with those leaders inspire my “great boss” tweets each day. Consider these statements about my great bosses:

  • Great bosses celebrate staff progress equally loudly as they celebrate staff accomplishment.
    Consistent team member effort leads to traction on goals. Great bosses don’t wait until the “game is over” and the goal is done to recognize team members.
  • Great bosses create a fair & just work environment. No favorites – all play by the same rules.
    Team members can smell boss “favorites” a mile away. Any hint of unfairness will quash team members’ application of discretionary energy towards team goals.
  • Great bosses expect the best & give others the benefit of the doubt. Mostly, people live UP to those.
    Optimism is a powerful force in human relationships. Not every team member will meet those expectations – but more will than you’d think.
  • Great bosses inspire staff to constantly discover new ways to accomplish tasks & serve others.
    Continuous improvement only happens when team members feel trusted & respected. When bosses truly serve team members, customer service skyrockets.
  • Great bosses roll up their sleeves & contribute side by side when things get hectic.
    Great bosses are not “above” serving alongside team members when needed. Talented team members coach & direct the boss so they’re contributing!
  • Great bosses do not tolerate missed standards of performance OR values. Talented staff deliver BOTH.
    This is a foundational element of “great boss” demonstration for me: make performance standards clear, make values standards clear, and hold all accountable for both.

What did (or does) your great boss do to earn that coveted title? What “great boss” behaviors do you appreciate most? Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Complete my new Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog site’s research page.

This new research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your organization.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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