by Jeff Haden
Good bosses look good on paper. Great bosses look great in person; their actions show their value.
Yet some bosses go even farther. They’re remarkable—not because of what you see them do but what you don’t see them do.
Where remarkable bosses are concerned, what you see is far from all you get:
1. They forgive… and they forget
When an employee makes a mistake—especially a major mistake—it’s easy to forever view that employee through the perspective of that mistake.
I know. I’ve done it.
But one mistake, or one weakness, is just one part of the whole person.
Great bosses are able to step back, set aside a mistake, and think about the whole employee.
Remarkable bosses are also able to forget that mistake, because they know that viewing any employee through the lens of one incident may forever impact how they treat that employee.
And they know the employee will be able to tell.
To forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.
2. They transform company goals into the employees’ personal goals.
Great bosses inspire their employees to achieve company goals.
Remarkable bosses make their employees feel that what they do will benefit them as much as it does the company. After all, whom will you work harder for: A company or yourself?
Whether they get professional development, an opportunity to grow, a chance to shine, a chance to flex their favorite business muscles, employees who feel a sense of personal purpose almost always outperform employees who feel a sense of company purpose. And they have a lot more fun doing it. Remarkable bosses know their employees well enough to tap the personal, not just the professional.
3. They look past the action to the emotion and motivation.
Sometimes employees make mistakes or simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes they take over projects or roles without approval or justification. Sometimes they jockey for position, play political games, or ignore company objectives in pursuit of personal goals.
When that happens it’s easy to assume they don’t listen or don’t care. But almost always there’s a deeper reason: They feel stifled, they feel they have no control, they feel marginalized or frustrated—or maybe they are just trying to find a sense of meaning in their work that pay rates and titles can never provide.
Effective bosses deal with actions. Remarkable bosses search for the underlying issues that, when overcome, lead to much bigger change for the better.
4. They support without seeking credit.
A customer is upset. A vendor feels shortchanged. A coworker is frustrated. Whatever the issue, good bosses support their employees. They know that to do otherwise undermines the employee’s credibility and possibly authority.
Afterword, most bosses will say to the employee, “Listen, I took up for you, but…”
Remarkable bosses don’t say anything. They feel supporting their employees—even if that shines a negative spotlight on themselves—is the right thing to do and is therefore unremarkable.
Even though we all know it isn’t.
5. They make fewer public decisions.
When a decision needs to be made, most of the time the best person to make that decision isn’t the boss. Most of the time the best person is the employee closest to the issue. Decisiveness is a quality of a good boss. Remarkable bosses can be decisive but often in a different way: They decide they aren’t the right person and then decide who is the right person. They do it not because they don’t want to avoid making those decisions but because they know they shouldn’t make those decisions.
6. They don’t see control as a reward.
Many people desperately want to be the boss so they can finally call the shots.
Remarkable bosses don’t care about control. As a result they aren’t seen to exercise control.
They’re seen as a person who helps.