Bosses Who Need the Most Help

I’m going to guess you’re a good boss.

How do I know this?

You’re reading this post.

And, more than likely, you’ve read my book, you follow my blog, and you listen to my podcast.

Like me, you probably regularly consume a steady diet of podcasts, audiobooks, and traditional books on business and leadership.

You’re a good leader because you’re humble and hungry.

You know you can always get better. There is always something new to learn.

You use that mindset with employees as well. You are humble when you are around them and you listen with the intent to learn – both how to be a better leader and to have a more successful organization.

Good leaders stay humble and hungry. They are always learning.

Good leaders stay humble and hungry. They are always learning. Click To Tweet

Bad bosses, on the other hand, think they know everything already. And they lack the humility and self-awareness to realize how bad they are as a leader.

The problem is – how do we reach these bosses when they are less likely to seek out new information?

Bad bosses lack the humility and self-awareness to realize how bad they are. They are less likely to seek out new information. Click To Tweet

It makes me think of the bible verse Luke 5:31 that says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”

So, how do we reach those bosses who need a “doctor?”

Let me suggest four ways:

Share leadership articles. If you see a good leadership article or blog post, send it to those that need to hear the message. Add a simple note like, “I thought this was interesting.” That’s all you really need to say. Let the reader figure it out on their own.

Share podcast episodes. If you hear an episode that really resonates with you and you think it would help another boss, send it their way. It’s easy to text an episode to someone that needs to hear it.

Share the books you are reading. After you finish a good book, lend it out to those that need to read it or send them a link to an audiobook you liked.

Follow up regularly. Find out what they thought about the information you shared. Check-in with them. Did they read it? What did they think? Let them know what you thought of it.

I want to see a world with better bosses and the only way we can do that is for good leaders to help all other bosses get better. We owe it to 70% of corporate employees who are currently working for a bad boss.

Another simple idea is to buy multiple copies of a good leadership book and give them away to those that need it. Many authors offer a bulk discount.

I have the watch book

Did you know you I offer a bulk discount on I Have the Watch? Enter the discount code BULK25 at checkout to get 25% off 5 or more books on my website.

I’m happy if you share my bookarticles, and podcast with those that need it but I’m also happy if you just share any good leadership content.

Reach out to me on Twitter and let me know some other ways we can help build a world with better bosses.

Help! I’m in a new leadership role, what should I do?

A while back I was asked this timely question:

Q: Jon, help!  I’ve just started a new leadership role and really want to make a good impression, what should I do?

A: First off, congrats!

Here’s the deal:

It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are, any time you start a new role, you’re the rookie.  Everyone’s watching you for cues to see what kind of leader you’re going to be.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the first 100 days are critically important. 

It’s your chance to set the right tone for your organization.

That first 100 days represent the “honeymoon” phase.

It’s the small window of time when you have the full attention of everyone.  Yes, you’ll be under a microscope with people watching your every move.  But this is good news!  It means you can make a big impact…

IF you take advantage of those beautiful early days!

First and foremost:

You’ve got to have a plan.

No plan, no magic.

The best leaders in history have known this…and used this “secret” to win the commitment – if not the hearts – of their staff.  And this all begins with letting your team know who you are.  There may be anticipation – even trepidation – among your people.  Right off the bat, have a meeting with all team members to fully introduce yourself.

Use stories and examples of how you handled past situations to let them see your character.  Be visible.  Spend time where your people are.  Actively listen to their questions, concerns, and ideas. And engage them on the subjects they care about.

In this way, you’ll get to know them.

And they’ll get to know you as well.

Finally, make a point to meet one-on-one with key employees.  I like to have one-on-one meetings with as many people as I can. I want to know the biggest challenges and the most important issues facing the organization. I also want to understand what they think needs to be addressed first.

Bottom line:

The energy you put out is the energy you get back.

If you’re open, cooperative, and show them you value them as humans, they’ll pay it back with insights you wouldn’t get otherwise and greater alignment at all levels.  Get ‘em on the bus first.  Then you can steer.

Anyway, that’s all for today.

Stay tuned for my next post when I’ll go into no less than 7 more key actions you MUST take in those all-important first days to grab this bull by the horns and bring it on home!

If you are striving to become a better leader, get a copy of my Amazon best selling bookI have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

It’s Good to be Liked but Even Better to be Respected

My first commanding officer in the Navy was a hard ass and it was one of the best learning experiences of my career.

Trial by Fire

When I first arrived on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee, I was a lowly Ensign, the lowest ranking officer in the Navy. Ensigns are affectionately called “butter bars” because they wear one gold bar on each of their collars. As a “butter bar” fresh out of submarine school, I had zero experience in submarine operations. I was young and clueless.

My commanding officer wasn’t. He was a Captain, an O-6, five ranks ahead of me in the Navy food chain and he was commanding submarines while I was still in high school. He was a rough man of few words and the words he did use were exactly what you would expect from a sailor at sea. He walked the boat with a scowl on his face just looking for something that was out of sorts. If you left a cup of coffee on a cabinet and it wasn’t “rigged for sea,” he would knock it to the ground just to make a point. It was not uncommon to get chewed out from him while you were standing watch for the smallest infraction.

High Expectations

He expected the best out of his crew, especially his officers. We typically bore the brunt of his tirades. I once witnessed him throw a spoon across the wardroom table because the soup that was being served was cold. He had high expectations and if your performance was not up to speed, he’d let you know. In truth, he was commanding a nuclear-powered submarine with 24 nuclear missiles in the middle of the Atlantic during the Cold War. The stakes were high and he made sure his crew was ready.

“I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” Julius Erving

As I learned my role and qualified for various watch stations on the boat, I noticed the crew had high expectations as well. They knew the Captain required the very best and they made sure to train young officers properly. It was not easy being held to such high standards but it made me work that much harder. When I finally qualified as Officer of the Deck, the officer in charge of the entire boat, I knew my stuff. I was tried and tested. I was good and I was surrounded by officers and sailors who were good as well.

The Results

The Tennessee proved its readiness time after time. Because of our commanding officer, we were able to effectively conduct all the missions we were assigned. We also became the best boat in the fleet. We received two Battle Efficiency Awards “Battle E’s,” a Navy Unit Commendation, and in 1993, we were awarded the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Ballistic Submarine of the Year.

I went from a young and clueless Ensign to an experienced and knowledgeable Lieutenant, qualified to stand every watch station on the boat. I learned the art of underwater combat from my Captain. I knew how to take the Tennessee to sea and to prepare her to launch missiles. I learned how to avoid detection and to hide in ocean currents and eddies. I learned navigation, engineering, and the full capabilities of our weapons. I also learned to love working for him.

“Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, [or] difficulty.” Theodore Roosevelt

Was my commanding officer warm and fuzzy? No. Was he overtly friendly? No. Did we all respect and admire him? Absolutely! Would we go to war with him? In a second.

To be fair, when the boat was in port and we were on R&R, the Captain was fun to be around. Once you had proven yourself to him, you became a part of his inner circle and he treated you with respect. We enjoyed many good times together when the boat wasn’t at sea.

The Lesson

The lesson for leaders is this, it’s good to be liked but it’s even better to be respected. Too often I see leaders trying to please everyone. They spend more time trying to be liked than focusing on the mission of the organization. If you read my articles, you know that I’m a big proponent of treating employees with respect but that never should be at the expense of the mission. If an employee is not performing to expectations, a leader needs to take action. Leadership is about motivating a group of people to complete a mission. If the mission is in jeopardy because of the actions of an employee, the leader needs to step in.

“It’s good to be liked but even better to be respected.”

We all had tremendous respect for our commanding officer. He was mission-focused and he pushed us all to be our best. My Captain taught me to keep my standards high and expect more from my team. He showed me that there is pride in completing difficult tasks and there is confidence when you are surrounded by competent peers. He pushed us hard but we each grew because of his direct leadership.

Ask yourself, are you trying to please your employees or are you focused on the mission? Are you pushing your team to be their best or are you accepting subpar performance?

Remember, it’s good to be liked as a leader but it’s even better to be respected.

Learn more about the leadership skills I learned in the Navy in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

[Photo credit – U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom]