Small businesses and startups face a number of obstacles that threaten their existence and success. Every business encounters both external and internal factors that will threaten their very existence. The behavior of the leadership within the business has a critical role in their success.² The Webster’s Dictionary defines the term “boss” as “a person who exercises control or authority; specifically: one who directs or supervises workers.¹” With the critical role that a boss plays within the business, business owners should be mindful of the qualities that distinguish a good boss from a bad boss. These discerning factors that determine a good from bad boss are the workplace atmosphere that he/she creates, his/her characteristics and his/her responses to stressful situations.
Leadership Style & Competence
A boss’s leadership style and competence is extremely important for the success of a business. “There is a significant correlation between the manager’s leadership style and employees’ commitment, motivation and stress …4” A negative workplace atmosphere can be described as an environment that prohibits an employee from reaching his/her full potential. Negative activity that is permitted in the workplace, such as harassment, makes it more difficult for an employee to reach full creativity and working capacity. Research indicates that there is a drop in backstabbing, politicking and sycophantic behaviors when employees no longer compete for promotions3. Positive workplace environments seem to have two common denominators – support and appreciation. In workplace environments that lack this support and appreciation there are statistics of higher turnover rates. These rates increase the amount of costs associated with hiring and training new employees. Positive workplace atmospheres allow employees to engage in positive behavior and productivity that benefits the company. Bosses with successful workplace environments “made themselves visible and available for questions from anyone in the organization by spending time walking around work areas.²” Employees of positive workplace environments show more loyalty, appreciation and are more likely to go above-and-beyond for the businesses that they work for.
A boss’s characteristics can encourage employees to reach their full potential or negatively impact an employee to do the opposite. A boss leads his employees by example. Bosses that work alongside fellow employees help to develop a greater respect from their workforce. An employee, who has no respect for his /her boss, is more likely to fail at meeting deadlines and more likely to produce less savory work product. “Narrow an individual’s scope of authority, and you shrink the incentive to dream, imagine and contribute.³” An employee who is unable to communicate or understand the instructions put forth by his/her boss, cannot correctly preform work assignments and instructions. Successful bosses “created an infrastructure for information and communication employees understood and could use. There were regular meetings with different constellations of employees/leaders.²” A boss that can be deemed ‘socially awkward’ can, at times, confuse employees as to the expectations that they want. A boss that is able to understand and sympathize with their employees can appropriately assign assignments and tasks to employees based on each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This allows employees to work on projects that they are best suited for; therefore; increasing productivity for the business.
Leadership's Ability to Cope With Stress
A boss who is able to remain calm in a stressful situation can help employees to do the same. A good boss immediately handles stressful situations by breaking down the situation into manageable bits. Employees respond negatively to stressful workplace situations causing them to be unable to produce work that reflects their skills and capabilities. By creating smaller tasks that solve the overall problem, a solution can be found in a more timely and proficient manner. A boss who is able to quickly identify and handle big assignments and stressors can help to prevent stress on employees. “Soon the boss who must touch everything gets overwhelmed by what has be reviewed and instead of maintaining control, winds up losing it.5” Employees feel they are better able to manage stressful situations with a boss that maintains a calm demeanor. A calm demeanor reassures the employee that the situation is manageable and solvable. Employees are better able to transfer this same calm demeanor to hand customer interactions and complaints in a calm and professional manner. Businesses were bosses are “improving and using understanding to avoid reoccurrence²” when managing mistakes have a greater success rate than those with bosses who do not maintain a calm composure.
With the significant impact on a business that a boss has, business owners should be very careful at choosing a boss that reflects that atmosphere, characteristics and responses that will most beneficial for their company. “The conclusion is that a successful leader uses high relation-orientation as a base.²” This wonderful quote is a prime example of the type of boss that will incorporate these positive influences discussed into the business atmosphere, allowing employees to feel appreciated. Any boss can mandate orders to their employees, but it takes a good boss to understand the importance of the way their requests and behaviors affect their employees. “It’s not just about blindly delegating but instead knowing the skill sets of those to who the boss delegates and everyone involved having a clear understanding of the parameters of who does what when.5”
Written by: Amanda Stein - Indiesilver Marketing
1- boss. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved May 8, 2011, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/boss
2- Larsson, J., & Vinberg, S. (2010). Leadership behaviour in successful organisations: Universal or situation-dependent?. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 21(3), 317-334. doi:10.1080/14783360903561779
3 - Hamel, G. (2011). FIRST, LET'S FIRE ALL THE MANAGERS. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 89(12), 48-60.
4- Turner, J., & Müller, R. (2005). THE PROJECT MANAGER'S LEADERSHIP STYLE AS A SUCCESS FACTOR ON PROJECTS: A LITERATURE REVIEW. Project Management Journal, 36(2), 49-61.
5- Feuer, M. (2012). DOES YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE HELP OR HINDER EMPLOYEES?. Smart Business Florida, 4(2), 22.