Monday, November 14, 2022

7 Tips On Advancing Your Career To Being A Great Boss

a-great-bossA common complaint I hear in my business consulting is that your boss is the problem, and you could fix the business if you only had the opportunity. When I ask what you are doing to prepare for that role, I usually only hear frustration and a lack of specifics or an action plan. Having spent my career on both sides of the fence, I have found some important things that worked for me.

In my perspective, the key is to practice thinking like you are the manager, rather than a critic or a victim, in every project and professional role you find yourself in. In this context, you will find that your peers will see you as a positive force to follow, and your manager will appreciate the support and your insights, maybe even recommending you for the next available opening.

Of course, the first requirement is to get the education and tools you need to feel confident that you are ready, and have the mindset to be a leader in every role. This alone will improve your productivity and effectiveness in your current role, as well as give you a head start towards a future role, including a management role or starting your own company as an entrepreneur.

In any case, here are some additional key principles that I have learned and recommend:

  1. Build win-win relationships, including with the boss. You can’t be a loner or complainer and ever by considered a leader or manager, despite knowing more than the rest of the team. You will always be more effective when people know you don’t struggle to always win at their expense. They will then support you in future leadership roles.

    If the other party, including your boss, thinks you're only looking out for yourself, their distrust and fear will automatically turn the result into a win-lose or lose-lose situation. Your challenge is to convince everyone that you see both sides of the situation.

  2. Actively seek guidance from people smarter than you. As satisfying as it is to feel you are helping others at your level or below, you will learn more from people with more role expertise and management experience. Even the smartest team members and executives humble themselves and listen, although the message is often difficult to hear.

    I find that even very smart and successful business leaders, like Bill Gates, still seek and use a mentor they can learn from, such as Warren Buffett. Their relationship is well-known and long-term, and enjoyed by both parties as a continuous learning opportunity.

  3. Strive always to be a leader, rather than a follower. Leadership elements include clear communication to all, providing support and coaching where required, and driving activities based on the big picture. If you practice all the key elements of leadership in every role, you will be recognized as a great team member and ideal future boss.

  4. Seek to understand the challenges that managers face. There are two sides to every coin, and you need to look at both sides, rather than just your own. For example, in business, owners and leaders create the vision and direction, while management is charged with gaining traction to achieve success. No one has independent control.

  5. Accept responsibility for your actions and results. Accountability is a practice that you must impose on yourself to be effective and appreciated by others. When you demonstrate this, you will be recognized as a natural leader and peers will seek your advice and counsel. Entrepreneurs and business leaders cannot escape accountability.

  6. Free up time for high-priority tasks and helping others. Work on habits and tools that improve your productivity and availability. We all know bosses and peers who are always busy, but real results are not apparent. Learn to say “no” with a smile on your face, so that your image is not one of working on many things, but rarely generating results.

  7. Share your successes and credit people around you. Make even the smallest victories and steps forward count. Find reasons to share success and celebrate with other team members and your boss. This will make you look good to senior management, build team morale, and improve your image for future opportunities.

With these initiatives, the best potential and real managers always see themselves as their own boss. They look at their boss’s side of the coin, and act as they would expect a boss to act. I recommend this as the best way to assure success in your role today, train your current boss on how to do the job better, and make you the best candidate for future management roles.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 10/31/2022 ***



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