Learn to be a great leader

As many of you know who have either known me or have been reading my writing for a while now, I have had a lot of great people to work with: from colleagues to college students, my teams have always been part of my family.

But one thing I had to learn so early in my managerial (and then later as a professor) career: other managers don’t always see their  people the same way.

I’ve had many great employees who have decided it was time for a new challenge. They would take time to find and apply for a position (and always with my unquestioned support) and invariably get a great new position in the firm. The happy story usually ended there. But occassionally, within a few weeks (sometimes a month) they’d be back at my door saying “what have I done? The new boss is awful.”

In some cases, it really was just the culture shock of adapting to a new organization or team. Every team has its own culture and rythyms… and it takes a while to get used to it.  But in other cases, it really was the boss. Unbeknownst to me, the boss might have been a super peer of mine, but a lousy leader. And now my poor person has just left the nest to face the reality of bad bosses.

For someone who adores college students and employees alike — this situation is always devastating to me personally.  I believe a good manager invests a lot of themselves in their people (or later, when I became a professor – alot into my students). Bad managers — or bad professors – make it that much harder for employees to trust the good leaders that we really do have their best interests at heart. Bad managers often don’t realize that while the economy may be horrid, good or great employees always have options. But bad managers find themselves boxed in by their own reputation of being, well, bad.  The people who can’t seem to find a position, end up with the bottom tier bosses, and cycle just keeps feeding itself. Bad managers foster bad habits or attitudes in their employees, which then reinforces the manager is right in their assessment….

My advice: Be the change. Employees are walking, talking reflections of YOU and your ability to lead. If your employees aren’t doing what you need them to do in the way you need it done, start coaching the person in the mirror first.

Category: Organizational Management

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