Other than your spouse, one of the most important choices you have in life is to choose your bosses wisely. Picking great mentors, who are supportive, participant and flexible from which to learn and grow is the pathway to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Why? Because you will have a rare resource that everyone else wishes they had for his or her own. Having a string of these types of mentors is rare. But if you can find a few, you will accelerate your career past your contemporaries.
So, what do you look for in a boss? One of the dimensions to look for is Management Style.
Which style of boss is best for you? Here are some examples:
Tell – (Highly directive) This is what I want you to do, how to do it, when, and where
Sell – (Selling my idea) This is what I want you to do. This is why you need to do it this way.
Question – (Open to ideas) This is the solution to the problem. What questions do you have?
Consult – (Engage and share) This is the issue. Let’s figure out alternative best solutions
Join – (Ownership) What are the issues, alternatives, and strategies for the best solution?
My experience with bosses and clients over the past 40 years shows me that the best bosses are those who can effectively utilize all management styles, but demonstrates the one that is most effective with a particular issue, situation or person. When there is a crisis, you want a boss who can tell you what to do immediately to solve the crisis. On the other hand, when there is time to solve an issue, you want a boss to involve you in a team problem-solving process.
The boss who has only one style of management for all situations is doomed to be ineffective. Over time, this boss may attract people who only know how to respond to a TELL approach and will not know how to make decisions or look for better alternatives. Over time, creative and engaging employees will leave that kind of boss and look for a more participant environment. Those who want to grow their experiences are looking for bosses they can learn from and grow. Bosses who only TELL or SELL as a management style can only tolerate certain kinds of employees: Those who don’t challenge ideas or present better alternatives.
A boss who has a management style of QUESTION, CONSULT or JOIN, has a much better chance of developing stronger and more responsive employees who can then expand their knowledge, skills and ability which in turn increases their performance over time.
The best boss of all is one who has a multitude of management styles, uses the appropriate one for each different situation, and can teach their employees how to contribute to results effectively. If you can find bosses like that, treasure them.
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