What kind of leader are you?
I came back to work after a two-week leave to take care of my child who had met with an accident. And while I was just settling in, I got a call from my boss to have a chat. Now, this kind of a summon first thing in the morning on the first day after a hiatus sent jitters down my spine. Feigning confidence, I walked towards her desk. And guess what was the first thing she asked, “How is your child now? Has her plaster come off? Give her lots of milk and calcium supplements.” Those words sounded like music to my ears. After that she briefed me about all that happened in my absence – the board meeting, our new intern, office annual day etc. Last came the discussion on unfinished projects and deadlines.
This is the kind of conversation that sends employees hopping back to their desk, basking in satisfaction and motivation. Leaders set the tone for their organisation, and their behaviour determines whether their organisation is characterised by trust, understanding, empathy, and respect. It is not the job, the paycheque or the prospects of growth alone which make an organisation a great place to work. It is the compassion, sensitivity and engagement that fosters a giving culture and produces loyal employees. Goes without saying, such a workplace is generally highly productive.
A Gallup poll showed that the best employee-friendly policy, compensation structure or six sigma practice a company can adopt is, simply, kindness towards its employees. A compassionate workplace scores much more than a lofty bonus, glamorous job profile, attractive benefits, flexible timings etc.
The predicament facing millennial bosses is whether to be loveable or strong, whether to be tough to boost performance or whether to be kind and garner respect and loyalty?
While there may be a handful of bosses who act as leaders and mentors in the truest sense, they are a powerhouse of inspiration for many.
So if you want to be a boss who is not a butt of jokes, a topic of gossip and a reason for many a crib, then there are some insanely simple things to keep in mind when conducting yourself. And as a women boss it’s only an extension of your compassion and understanding carried forward from home to office.
- Lead by example
Some of the most favourite bosses are those who practise but don’t preach. When you get in a little late for your 9.00 am meeting, you will usually find her waiting yet not giving a low-down to those occasional latecomers.
You will not find these respectful bosses walking out of the conference hall without switching off the lights or ACs or closing the door behind them. And they will do all this with such a calm smile and regard for everyone, that it would melt your heart right there.
- Appreciate in public:
And reprimand behind closed doors. Yes, a mature boss, just like a sensitive mother will encourage and appreciate your good work in front of the entire team. And whenever there is something which needs correction, or consternation, she will always do it in private. She values your self-respect as much as her own.
- Prepare for the meeting:
Whether it is about the budget allocation, new technology you suggested or your appraisal discussion, an involved boss will always come prepared for the meeting, investing time, effort and thoughts. When they walk in for a discussion, they take down notes, exchange ideas, understand your plans, improvise on your ideas and accept feedback.
- Let people grow:
It is difficult, but this is a chart-buster. One of the most desired trait in a boss is her ability to let go, not micro-manage or hover like a hawk over every email you reply, excel sheet you finish collating or document you edit. The mentors support their employees’ growth and learning. They let people make mistakes and fish their way up through experiences and accidents.
- Become the refuge:
Imagine an untimely goof up in numbers at the internal board meeting. And after the sacrilege your boss walks and owns up for your mistake. It requires immense maturity to be able to stand up for your team and protect them for their inexperienced foul. Such bosses become the mentors who guide and handhold rather than strip you in front of others.
The leaders who are inspiring, empathic and supportive have more loyal and engaged employees. The good bosses, who use a currency of kindness, nurture high performing and committed individuals, walk an extra mile, put in the extra hours, and complete the Herculean project, or a complex data interpretation –tasks which most teams will shy away from. And all of this is coupled with a sense of commitment and ownership, which is second to none. So checking in with employees about their families once in a while, letting them learn and grow, and being their career anchor may help more than offering a mindfulness class at lunchtime. Remember your organisation is a place of interaction first and transaction later.