Monthly Archives: September 2010

Being a good boss, being a good team member

Good Bosses are Good Leaders, and they all have three things in common: they all care about their team, they all care about quality, and they all care about their customers/punters/people using their services or products. Because of those three things they all also provide three things in common: Vision, Systems, and Cherishing. I will explain!

A Good Boss has the bigger picture at the front of her mind. She thinks, listens, plans, analyses, and brings the parts into the whole. This isn’t simple: it takes time, skill, the ability to see past the stats to the reality, and to see how that reality impacts on the Big Plan and the direction the team needs to take to make sure the Big Plan happens, and indeed what the Big Plan needs to be. It means factoring in the even bigger picture, political, economic, and social; factoring in the individual talents of the team so that they work to the benefit of the whole and she provides opportunities for people to develop the skills they have and grow skills they didn’t know they had. She takes the rap and acknowledges that The Buck Stops Here. She keeps her head slightly above the other heads in the team so that she can see further ahead and spot the icebergs.

A Good Boss makes sure that, once the direction is set, as above, the pathways are clear. This involves putting systems into place, the pathways that make sure stuff happens at the right time, in the right way, and that it can be demonstrated, monitored and maintained . She doesn’t have to service the systems, she just needs to make sure the right systems are in  place and people know how to use them. The systems should free her up to do the other things a Boss needs to do. She will be making sure that Quality Happens.

A Good Boss cherishes her team. This isn’t all cuddly and fluffy, it is more about motivating and developing people, maximising their abilities and making sure that even their hidden talents are revealed and developed and that they know that their talents and qualities are valued and appreciated . This can mean all kinds of things from coaching individually, developing team events and forums, increasing peoples responsibilities to encourage their growth and confidence, devolving projects to people, maybe just talking and listening and being credible.

A Good Boss works towards being redundant: if she does all of the above the project/team/service will run itself, at least for a while. Once all the above is in place and working properly a Boss could take a few weeks off, could run another project, without her absence being noticed. After a few weeks her vision and clarity might be needed again to re-set the process, but it should maintain itself  for a short period just on its own momentum.

A Good Team values this. There are people who think, because a Boss doesn’t and shouldn’t have to dash about Doing Stuff because she is is internally busy thinking stuff, understanding stuff and planning stuff, she isn’t “doing anything”. Some team members fail to understand that that is their job, and that the Good Boss is freeing them up to do their jobs and to develop their roles. There are team members who get this and value it, and make full use of the Good Boss resource available to them, and they may get to develop themselves into Good Bosses eventually. And enjoy the journey on the way!!

A Good Team works hard at being a Good Team, uses the Good Team muscles that the Good Boss has enabled them to exercise and bulk up and a Good Team  practices and rehearses the ballet that a Good Team performs in order to work together.  But as with all ballet performances, just one shabby dancer can cause chaos. More than one means the dance is chaotic, not a dance, more of a shambles. All the performers need to be able to rely on all the others to play their own parts and all parts might be different, to be in the right place at the right time, move in the right way, and catch the others when they leap or fall. A Good Team identifies the vulnerable spots, the members who are for one reason or another not playing their parts well enough, and the Good Team and Good Boss work together to help that member re-learn their moves. That can only happen when the dancer is willing to learn, willing to rehearse and practice and understand which bits of her dance were not working and trust her colleagues to support her and be honest enough to tell her what she needs to do. The Good Team with a Bad Dancer is a temporarily Less Good Team! But because it is fundamentally a Good Team it has the capacity to carry the weak dancer while she learns the moves.  The weak dancer is not always the same person – the Team is made up of individuals, all of whom have A Life and all of whom will function at different levels at different times. Just because a dancer sprains an ankle and is the weak partner for a while doesn’t mean that dancer is always going to be the weak link – the sprain heals, the dancer re-learns the steps, and the dance goes on. The team bends and shifts and adapts to accommodate that and the boss respects it.

A Good Boss deserves a Good Team, and a Good Team inevitably has a Good Boss. What sort of team do you belong to? How can you improve it? Are you the Weakest Link………? Are your colleagues up to the job of carrying you for a while, and are you up to the job of re-learning your steps? And will your boss take the risk of allowing that to happen?

Message me, email me, and let me know about your team and your boss!!

More about Goals

Last week we looked at Goals – why they are a Good Thing and why they don’t need to be selfish. Thank you to everyone who messaged and emailed me with their secret goals and passions – you know who you are!! Your secrets are safe with me. And I hope my replies were helpful. I appreciate the opportunity to be of use, and to engage with a few more people – it has been a pleasure. Keep in touch!

Perhaps it’s a good time to look at how you know what your goals are – what they really are.

Here are some more questions that might help:

  • What are the five things I value most in my life right now?
  • Is there something I have always wanted to try but have put off/been afraid of/thought I couldn’t afford/didn’t have time for?
  • Who do I admire? Would I like to be like them?
  • What epitaph would I like on my gravestone? (I still like Spike Milligans: “I told you I was ill”)
Here are some questions that might help you decide which are the most appropriate immediate goals and what you need to make it happen:
  • What skills do I need?
  • What habits do I need to ditch? (There will be some, trust me!!)
  • What are the little steps I will need to take to make up the big stride?
  • What will happen if I take those steps? 

Successful people have one thing in common: they spend more of each day doing the things that are important. And by “important” we mean “takes them towards their goals”. Once you have identified your goals, chosen the little steps that will make up the big strides towards the goals, and made your plans to acquire the skills, tools and habits you need, you will know, as clearly as a clear thing on clear day in clear town – during the clear sale – your path and priorities. It might surprise you. I have a friend who worked happily in a public sector organisation, successfully working with people with lots of challenges in their daily lives. She had a son, a partner, was happy. But in her spare time she wrote romances – full-on, pink-lace-bodice-ripping-heaving-bosoms-panting-bouncing-tousled-damp-steamy-smooth-and-exhausting romances that certainly left me feeling a little, well, rosy. She wrote them because she enjoyed writing them. I rather suspect her partner liked them too, but I didn’t like to pry……

     But one day, out of a conversation we were having, she realised that her priorities were changing. Sure, she still loved working with people, and she had been doing it a long time. It was safe. But she felt under her twin-set a yearning for something else. She did the asking herself questions thing and it turns out that, to her surprise, she wanted to write full time and spend more time at home with her son and partner – who was an artist who worked at home! She made a few plans, took a punt on herself, and within a year had been published. She had genuinely seen herself in her paid job until retirement, hadn’t really considered anything else, had seen her “stories” as a hobby. Our goals can come from lots of places – hers dropped out of her hobby. This also shows, rather nicely, that goals don’t have to be all about work as one of her drivers was being at home with her family – although my own view is that once work is aligned the rest falls into place. But I am a card-carrying workaholic with no sense of restraint. And insomnia. And a real need to witness the dawn every day in case I miss something. Was that too much information…..?!
   This is a theme that will run and run. Please message and email me with your comments and the next blogpost will reflect the issues you bring up. There is more to come………
Have a great week. 
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