To be an exceptional boss, you have to create a target condition for your subordinates.
- Keep ’em Safe
- Make ’em Grow
Keep ’em Safe
When people feel emotionally safe while reporting to you as their boss, they will:
- Admit mistakes easily and early (vs. hiding mistakes)
- Ask for help (vs. pretending they know)
- Raise concerns (vs. going along with the group)
All of which helps the team.
Techniques for creating safety include Listening and Caring.
Make ’em Grow
When you get to know each of your direct reports well, you can and must gently and firmly push them out of their comfort zone into growth. (To do this you have to know their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and goals, and how they relate to the team’s goals.)
When you succeed in pushing people into growth, it looks like:
- Giving people increased responsibility
- Giving people stretch assignments
- Expecting excellence from them (while being excellent yourself)
- Providing the support they need to succeed (training, tools, encouragement)
Once you see these two elements as, jointly, the target condition that you need to create, you’ll see how all the other answers that people give to this question fit in.
Things like Honesty, Integrity, Empathy, etc. all serve to create safety.
Things like Direct Feedback, Setting an Example, etc. all serve to push growth.
As a boss you can be an introvert or extrovert, loud or quiet, calm or emotive, visionary or servant — as long as you Keep ’em Safe and Make ’em Grow, you’ll see phenomenal success and be an outstanding boss.