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What Kind of Boss Are You?

There are good ones, there are bad ones, there are so-so ones, there are hapless ones, there are hopeless ones, there are helpless ones, there are barely competent ones, there are completely incompetent ones, there are steady ones, there are mercurial ones, there are despotic ones, there are predictable ones, there are unpredictable ones, there are outstanding ones, there are world class ones, and there’s you.

Which adjective best describes you? Not which adjective you’d pick to describe yourself as boss, rather, which adjective would your boss use speaking of you? Which would your peers and colleagues use? And, perhaps most importantly and revealing, which adjective would your subordinates select?

Not that being in management is a popularity contest. Years ago, it was said that management or business ownership were careers where you worked harder than people realized and earned less than they thought. Yet here you are in management and in a role of supervising people.

Most owners or managers will tell you that they spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with people issues rather than with process and production issues. Well, the reality is that that’s the reality—people have moods and attitudes but machinery and equipment don’t. And it’s how you deal with those around you, at all levels, that determines your reputation as a boss.

There are times when you’ll make a decision that seems so correct and obvious to you that you’ll question why it needs an explanation. It’s needed because it’s part of open communications and also because those charged with its implementation likely do not have your overarching view of the situation.

Clearly there will be times when you’ll make an unpopular decision. If the decision is made in the midst of a crisis, then, as soon as practicable, explain it. If not made under the pressure of time, then explaining, prior to implementation how you reached it will make it more palatable. If you can’t explain your decision at all, then reconsider it or make a correcting one. If you won’t explain it on the premise that you’re the boss or they don’t need to know, then select the most appropriate negative adjective for yourself.

Why so much focus on decisions? Because, ultimately, decision-making is the linchpin of company operations and is the most obvious and knowable attribute of a boss. So, by your decisions and communication thereof, shall ye be known.

Think of what you’ve learned from both bad and good bosses. It’s pretty simple then, isn’t it, to be a positive boss? Don’t do what the worst bosses did, even if it seems they’ve earned their position by such behavior. Do follow and use the principles you’ve learned from the best bosses. And, finally, pick and choose the good attributes and principles you’ve seen in those bosses who fall somewhere between the extremes. Then, strive to be the best.

L. Douglas Mault is president of Executive Advisory Institute, Portland, Ore. The website is; he can be reached at (888) 428.3331.

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