The Top 20 Characteristics of a 'Best Boss':

#16 - is Flexible and Willing to Change When Necessary
#17 - is a Good Planner/Organizer
#18 - Shows Respect to Others

by Ron Ragain, Ph.D.

The holiday season brings us to the final two installments of the Top 20 Characteristics of a Best Boss.  As you prepare for the potential stress of family and out of town guests, take the time to look back at the characteristics we have described so far and imagine how they might influence your relationships with friends and family.
(click on any of the links below to see the archived topic) 

#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 and
#15 -- is a team builder.

This month we will examine how a Best Boss:

#16 -- is flexible and willing to change when necessary
#17 -- is a good planner / organizer and
#18 -- shows respect to others.

Flexible and Willing to Change When Necessary

“I’m the boss and we will do it my way” is not something you would hear from a Best Boss.  That being said, this a common expression heard in many workplaces and a powerful undertone in the culture of many of the organizations that don't necessarily say it out loud.  The consequences of this expressed or implied sentiment are dramatic, the least of which include employee apathy, disengagement and a potentially profit forfeiting reduction in creativity.

Fear of Losing Control   
One of the fundamental issues is that some managers/supervisors view flexibility as a sign of weakness. Common expressions like "give them an inch and they will take a mile" and "too many chiefs and not enough indians" reinforce the belief that the supervisor must exhert unquestionable authority or risk losing control.  Quite the contrary, it is often the rigid dictator that incites the desire for revolution.  

Fear of not Knowing all the Answers 
Another driving force in the tendency toward rigidity is that many supervisors don’t want to admit that they don’t have all of the answers.  
I once heard a really great manager say “I am willing to learn from anyone, even the newest person on the team because they don’t have the years of bias that I have.”  If you remember that the job of a supervisor is to get results from the efforts of others, it only makes sense that you would leverage the creative brains of others to get results as well.  Flexibility does not mean giving in to all suggestions but rather is the willingness to entertain other views and make decisions on the basis of that evaluation.

Flexibilty & Problem Solving
The ability to apply the problem solving skills that we discussed in our October Newsletter is critical to becoming flexible.  Good team-based problem solvers will have the opportunity to seek input from team members and then collaborate with them on solutions, thus making flexibility much easier to demonstrate.  Repeated practice with collaborative problem solving will reinforce the desire to be flexible as you observe the solution optimizing benefits of additional perspectives.
A Good Planner / Organizer
Planning/Organizing, problem solving and time management go hand-in-hand.  

Good bosses know that their team members need direction so that they will know “what” is expected of them.  They must have a clear understanding of the results that they must achieve.   A good plan, especially as the result of collaboration, will provide those expectations for each team member.  

Reading from the Same Page
It really doesn’t matter if the plan is the result of problem solving or simply daily work objectives, the resulting product is the same, namely a plan that everyone understands and supports.

Time and Priorities
Additionally, team members must have a clear understanding of “when” those results are expected.  This is where time management comes in. 
Best Bosses help set priorities as part of the planning process.  They gather information about the current action items for each team member and then in concert they prioritize them.  This helps the team member control his/her time and as a result manage their personal stress. 

Shows Respect to Others

What is respect anyway?  Respect is defined as “a feeling of admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”  So showing respect is a demonstration of this definition in some way.

Listen to Show Respect
How does a person “show respect” to another?  If your answer is “by listening to the other person” then you are in agreement with just about everyone to whom we have asked this question over the last 30-years.  Listening does not require that you “respect” every “ability, quality or achievement” of the person, but it does require some very important skills.

You may recall that we discussed listening in detail in the "Good Communicator" installment that kicked-off this newsletter series.
The key is to genuinely show interest in the other person through how you listen with both your words (questions) and with your body language.

Additionally, the skills that you use as you delegate to your team members demonstrates that you respect their “abilities, qualities and achievements” and allows you to “respectfully” help them improve in those areas where improvement is needed.  To refresh your memory, check out some of the blog topics we have written on Delegation.

Best Boss Bottom Line

You may have noticed that these three skills are related in that flexibility, planning and respect all require that you listen effectively.  Make sure that this is your top priority and you will have a much better chance of being seen as a “Best Boss”.

Question:  You often mention that a safety intervention should be done in such a way that it does not drive defensiveness.  How can you make somebody who is naturally defensive not become defensive?
SafetyCompass®:  First we need to reiterate that defensiveness comes from a perceived attack on dignity, reputation, or both.  The first way to avoid putting someone on defense is to actively listen and show respect.  If the person perceives your intent is good, based on the respect you are showing them, the chances of them perceiving an attack on their dignity or reputation is lessened.  However, if they do become defensive, even when you show respect, you must take away their perception of the attack.  The tool we use to do this is called a “Do/Don’t Statement.”  Simply tell them what your intent is and/or what your intent is not.  For example a "Do Statement" would sound something like, “All I want is for you to be safe.”  If you prefer a "Don’t Statement," an example of that could be, “I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job.”  Or we could put both together as a complete "Do/Don’t" and say, “I’m not trying to tell you how to do our job, I just want you to be safe.”  Once a person truly believes your sincerity and good intent, the defensiveness naturally subsides.






At the root of most business successes and failures - both large and small - is human performance.

For 25+ years, hundreds of companies around the world have turned to The RAD Group to identify, resolve and capitalize on critical human factors in their organizations.


November 19
Alberta Health
& Safety Conference

(Edmonton, Alberta, CAN)
Phillip Ragain presents
Human Intervention -  
A Dynamic Solution for
Complex Safety Problems
(1-day Seminar)
SafetyCompass® - Tools for Stopping and Redirecting Unsafe Operations

December 4-5
OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference
(Dallas, TX)
Michael Allen presents
Human Intervention -  
A Dynamic Solution for
Complex Safety Problems

Phillip Ragain presents
Understanding & Influencing Bulletproof Employees 


Best Boss skills - 

#19 - Good Decision Maker

#20 - Deals Effectively with Conflict


Don't Throw Them Under the Bus

The Lumbergh Principle

Your Culture Gap is Showing

A Taste of Your Own Medicine

Deal with Employee Failure -- The SAFE Way

4 Keys to Managing Outside of Your Area of Technical Competence

Can you Change Behavior or Work Incident Free without Punishment?

Incentives as a Motivational Tool

Consequence Predictability and Results

Overcoming the Tendency to Micro-manage

Is Dissent in the Workplace Good for Results?

Because I Said So!   The Importance of “WHY”

4 Keys to Effective Delegation

4 Steps for Successful Career Coaching

3 Keys to Building and Maintaining Confidence and Confidentiality

Listening as the Key to Maintaining Mutual Respect

Trust: 3 Keys to Establishing Shared Purpose

3 Essential Components of Mutual Trust

Building Effective Relationships Through Mentoring and Coaching

Relationship: The Key to Motivating Different Generations

Using Extrinsic Motivators Effectively

4 Keys to Increasing Employee Initiative

4 Meaningful Ways to Give Positive Feedback

4 Feedback Pitfalls Every Manager Should Avoid


Click HERE to submit questions for SafetyCompass® Corner

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