October 15, 2017
We've entered an era in which the quality of leadership across the country is being publicly called into question. Watching some of the issues that have surfaced recently has reminded me of the analysis of a competent leader that became central to the management training program that the Customs Service put together at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia, back in 1986.
What are the characteristics of a good boss? He, or she, will:
- accept willingly the responsibilities of leadership;
- lead by encouragement and example;
- discharge his duties faithfully, and accept accountability for those actions, and those of subordinates;
- create a climate which encourages employees to excel;
- induce employees to take pride in their work;
- do the right thing, regardless of consequences;
- and recognize that managers are only as good as their subordinates.
The boss who functions in a threatening manner is of no value. All that happens is that subordinates will recognize a system in which their primary objective is to stay out of trouble. They will tell the boss what he wants to hear, rather than what he needs to hear. And they will show little or no creative work because their primary objective is to remain invisible.
A smart boss will recognize good performance, preferably in the presence of other employees and, if possible, in that of his own manager. When evaluations are performed, he will look for positive features and not simply use the system as a venue for criticism.
And he does not behave as if everything is about him. He and his team of subordinates are trying to perform at a high level. When that happens, he will keep in mind that credit is not a limited quantity and he will spread it appropriately.
Incidentally, the same approach works for teachers.