I have spent hours asking clients what they think are the characteristics of a good boss. Furthermore, when I was working on my doctorate in education, classes often addressed the characteristics of effective leadership. The positive characteristics of leadership appreciated by both my clients and classmates were fairness, individualized support of employees, and leading by positive example. These preferences, as well as some other valuable traits that will help leaders gain their employees’ respect, are also supported by literature on the subject of leadership.
No matter what your responsibilities are as a boss, it is likely that you desire to leave a positive legacy and that you would like to make life at work pleasant for your dependents. Many say the world is basically not fair, but that does not mean that the work environment has to imitate injustices that occur outside of the workplace. To the contrary, leaders should model fair behavior and decision-making at work since it not only helps the business develop an outstanding reputation, but it also serves to encourage employees to do their best work. Being unfair only establishes a corrupt environment that spreads like poison ivy. In most cases, employees return the kindness of a good leader by doing a fair day’s labor simply because they know they have an employer who treats everyone in a humane and honorable way. Fairness is positively contagious when exhibited by true leaders.
A fair boss takes the feelings and needs of an employee into consideration as he or she tries to understand the mindset of the employee. Everyone is not coming from the same place so it is important to try to understand obstacles facing others. This means that a leader sometimes gives second chances and/or provides necessary professional development to those who demonstrate that they want to make efforts to improve.
One way to support employees is to answer their questions honestly. A leader must also have special knowledge related specifically to work that he or she can perform with dependents. If leaders do not have a means of enhancing employees’ knowledge and of organizing work efficiently, they are not needed. Unfortunately, some leaders prefer to keep specialized knowledge to themselves so as not to empower employees who could potentially apply for higher positions once they attain higher-level knowledge.
One leader told her dependents that they should not ask her any questions because dependent employees should already know everything. When leaders respond that a question is silly, this sometimes means the leader lacks knowledge, but it usually signifies that the boss does not want to share valuable knowledge. If a leader belittles an employee for asking a question, in most cases it is because he or she is stockpiling information that will enable him or her to remain on the top of the pyramid. Such leaders who refuse to empower their dependents are not well-remembered. Their dependents are always happy to be free of them, and those leaders are often disliked and feared by those clients with whom they also come into contact.
Leading with fairness, supportive behavior, and positive examples is enhanced by having passion and love for what the company produces. If a leader shows that she loves what she does, her joy and desire to improve the product will serve a model for those under her.
My clients reported that they would prefer to assist a leader who has a dedicated mission if that same leader is always supportive and fair. Many stated that modeling good behavior was expected of all leaders at all levels.
Sometimes people with all of the required traits mentioned in this article do not excel as leaders. This is usually when the leader lacks self-confidence, when the leader tends to be too changeable, or when the leader is emotionally unstable. Being emotionally unstable is the worst characteristic that a leader can have because he does not have the capacity to help employees develop their skills. On the other hand, changeable leaders either do not understand the mission of the company, or they cannot make up their minds about how they want to accomplish goals. Leaders who lack self-confidence are eventually undermined by employees and customers alike. In some cases, leaders without faith in themselves are those who know they are not masters of the product they are proposing to the buyer, but in some cases, they lack faith in themselves due to underlying issues from childhood.
Before one is ready to take charge of a department or company, he or she needs to empty any baggage that interferes with the accomplishment of goals. Only then will he be able to lead by example with the positive attitude and desire to mentor dependents. Perhaps leadership is not for everyone, so leaders have to re-evaluate the actions that they implement to support those who work under them to ensure they are giving positive examples, providing guidance, and keeping their own ears open when approached by employees. A little encouragement of employees will go a long way while gaining your employees’ true affection and respect. When they know you are being fair and trying to improve their futures, your employees will gladly return the favor while feeling truly invested in the company.
The best way to support your employees is to allow them to voice their opinions and to ask any questions that come to mind. This should be permitted both in person and by means of an anonymous letter that might be printed on paper and deposited in a box. Although face-to-face encounters are recommended, it is sometimes necessary to let employees express themselves in a safe, anonymous context.
Be the facilitator whom you would like to have if you were in their shoes. How would you want an employer to treat your child or your mother? Support employees in their plights to improve their education and to better themselves through advancement on the job. Do all that you can so they will be better off tomorrow. You will surely be repaid in many ways for empowering the workforce. Everyone will know that you live by giving the example that produces a stable work environment.