Geoffrey James on "Extraordinary" Bosses
Ever since I signed up to LinkedIn, I've received regular emails with links to interesting articles on business, prompting me to re-evaluate a lot of the old views on business that I used to hold, and I've since come to see business as a very creative, impressive human endeavor, not merely a practical necessity that I hoped to personally avoid by getting into academia. Just a few days ago, I clicked a link to an article by Geoffrey James for a publication called Inc. The article was titled "8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses" (April 23, 2012), and I found these eight beliefs fascinating:
1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.Those eight as an abstract list perhaps don't look so impressive, but if you read the article, they get filled in, and so do you. Take number three:
2. A company is a community, not a machine.
3. Management is service, not control.
4. My employees are my peers, not my children.
5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.
6. Change equals growth, not pain.
7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.
8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.
Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they're told. They're hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the "wait and see what the boss says" mentality.I know, I know. My readers in business are thinking, "Where have you been?" Well . . . elsewhere. But I'm hanging around now, eavesdropping, and I'm finding the insights both fascinating and useful. In this instance -- number 3, I mean -- such average bosses, or more accurately, bad bosses, are found everywhere, even in the academic world. We've all had the professor, the chairperson, the dean, or the university president who fits the profile of the 'average' boss, but we've also had those who turned out to be extraordinary bosses.
Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.
Some of the characteristics of extraordinary bosses remind me of what Jim Whitehurst, "president and chief executive of Red Hat," said about leaders. Consider the fifth core belief of extraordinary bosses listed by James:
Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they'll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization's goals, truly enjoy what they're doing and (of course) know they'll share in the rewards.Recall from an earlier blog entry a quote lifted out of Whitehurst's remarks on good leadership:
[F]or any business there are three levels of leadership. One is getting somebody to do what you want them to do. The second is getting people to think what you want them to think; then you don't have to tell them what to do because they will figure it out . . . . [The third and] best is getting people to believe what you want them to believe, and if people really fundamentally believe what you want them to believe, they will walk through walls. They will do anything.All of us good employees -- including those of us employed in the academic world of teaching -- prefer the extraordinary boss who can inspire in the way that Whitehurst describes.
But how would an extraordinary boss deal with a bad employee?