by Ron Ragain, Ph.D.
Over the course of 2012, the world-wide media has interviewed, polled, analyzed, and dissected countless opinions and agendas with respect to the characteristics and qualifications, both desired from and previously demonstrated by, the various candidates for global leadership from Cairo to Washington and Athens to Beijing.
During this same time, we, here at The RAD Group, have been broadcasting our own analysis of the characteristics we hope to see in today's leaders. Our Best Boss series has had one simple agenda and we hope you have found it valuable.
Our analysis will impact the results you are seeing wether you are a newly elected Prime Minister, a CEO, a night shift supervisor, or mom or dad. We believe that you and the other leaders in your organization can improve performance by listening to what your employees have been telling us over the last 20+ years. We asked thousands of participants in our performance management classes to describe the best boss they ever had. Though our polls are not closed, we feel confident to announce the results.
A "Best Boss":
#1 -- is a good communicator
#2 -- holds himself and others accountable for results
#3 -- enables success
#4 -- motivates others
#5 -- cares about the success of others
#6 -- is honest and trustworthy
#7 -- shows trust by delegating effectively
#8 -- is fair and consistent
#9 -- competent and knowledgeable
#10 -- rewards / recognizes success
#11 -- leads by example
#12 -- is loyal to employees
#13 -- is friendly
#14 -- is a good problem solver
#15 -- is a team builder
#16 -- is flexible and willing to change when necessary
#17 -- is a good planner / organizer and
#18 -- shows respect to others.
This month we close out the series with a look at how a Best Boss:
#19 -- is a good decision maker and
#20 -- deals effectively with conflict.
A Good Decision Maker
Scores of books and articles have been written on the best way to make decisions and many of the processes described include valuable assistance for decision makers. In actuality, we are all decision makers and make decisions many times each day. Some decisions are just more important than others, in that they can lead to more significant (both positive and negative) consequences.
Understand the Facts
The key to good decision making is a complete (or as complete as time and information allow) understanding of the facts and potential consequences of each possible decision. Without question it involves an examination of any and all ethical consequences of the decision. For simple decisions, little or no input from others may be needed. These are the routine daily decisions that don’t require a lot of “buy-in” for execution to occur. But complex, high impact decisions are different.
As we have said several times before in previous newsletters, getting input from team members and other experts is invaluable when gathering facts, understanding consequences and making the final decision.
Best Bosses understand that they can’t have all of the information, knowledge and experience needed to make all important decisions, so they recruit help. They treat important decision making as a team-based problem solving exercise. Once they have gathered the relevant information, they then “pull the trigger”, make the decision and then stand behind both the decision and the team.
Prepare for the Next Decision
If success follows a decision, Best Bosses share the “glory” with the team and if “failure” follows, they accept responsibility and go to work determining why the failure occurred so that it won’t happen again. In other words, they engage in team-based problem solving to correct the failure. Regardless of the outcome, how the boss responds to the results of a decision making process will dramatically impact the ability to recruit help next time, the willingness of recruits to communicate facts and consequences, and the confidence with which future decisions will be executed.
Deals Effectively with Conflict
Conflict is a naturally occurring issue anytime you have people working or living together. We define conflict as unresolved differences of opinion or perceptions regarding some issue. Conflict by definition is required for improvement and innovation to occur and is completely healthy if managed correctly.
Foster Positive Conflict
Best Bosses understand the value of conflict and foster opportunities for conflict-based conversation that leads to creative improvement. Best Bosses also know that conflict can lead to reduced productivity, quality, safety, etc. and work to keep unhealthy conflict to a minimum.
Collaboration and Communication
Best Bosses keep unhealthy conflict to a minimum by understanding that the best way to resolve conflict is through collaboration. Collaboration requires an understanding of the problem solving process and how to communicate by listening effectively before any decision concerning action is taken. All parties must have the opportunity to “state their positions”, but must also be “respectful” enough to listen to the other person to gain a complete understanding of their position. Best Bosses create an environment of respectful openness where disagreement is encouraged and the skills to collaboratively resolve conflict are learned by every team member.
Best Boss Bottom Line
We have created a name for best bosses; we call them “Facilitative Relational Leaders”. Facilitation is defined as the accomplishment of results by making it easier for other people to express their views and achieve their objectives. Relational is demonstrating respect and care for others. The skills and characteristics identified in our research are the same skills needed to facilitate and build relationships. You may have noticed that the Best Boss skills/characteristics tend to tie together and demonstration of one involves application of others. Best Bosses understand this and continuously attempt to improve in the use of each of the skills that we have been discussing. Maybe it is time for you to evaluate or re-evaluate where you stand.
Question: If the ultimate goal of a quality safety intervention is to improve the system in which people work, how does leadership go about making these changes based simply on safety interventions?
SafetyCompass®: The ultimate job responsibility of a leader is to create a system in which people are as productive and safe as possible. That may sound simple enough, but the day-to-day tasks involved are numerous and complex. Most leaders simply don’t have the opportunity to spend large amounts of time in the front-line of operations on a daily basis, given their list of competing demands.
This is the very reason why quality safety interventions are so vital. The people closest to the operations must be vigilant to intervene in any unsafe act and that intervention must provide real world field intelligence as to why it made sense for the unsafe actor to behave in such a way. Once this field intelligence is collected it should then be reported and measured to find trends in the system of work that are leading to unsafe acts. Only then can leadership make sound decisions to influence the system of work in such a way that it makes it easier for the people in operations to work in a productive and safe way.