We’ve all had our share of poor or mediocre bosses, but what qualities do most great supervisors seem to have? I would argue three of the essentials are transparency, flexibility, and leadership.

Here’s what they look like in action.

Transparency: A tremendous amount of workplace time is wasted when employees are unsure, confused, or misinformed. This is especially true with decisions that directly impact them and their work. People appreciate they can’t know every detail, most don’t care, but in uncertain times vivid imaginations thrive. As a supervisor, the more transparent you can be the less energy wasted on guessing, gossiping, and worrying. I made a habit of “thinking out loud” in meetings. Forced myself to do it since, as an introvert, it’s not my typical way of operating. I’d share my ideas and thought process openly. More importantly, I’d dispel rumors, predict reactions, and say when I just “didn’t know.” I also made every attempt to deliver bad news before it travelled the underground. When your staff knows you share information honestly and quickly, they are less likely to seek out or believe the saboteurs, and come to you.

Flexibility: Hopefully, you hire people who bring something unique to the team. So why would you expect them to all operate in a similar manner? Of course, you can’t have a group of solopreneurs doing whatever they want, when they want, but you can allow for differences in style and approach. Does it really matter whether the work is done in the early morning or late at night, as long as it meets the deadline? Can we accept that some people need to initially think alone while others like to brainstorm when starting a project? Flexibility means an openness and willingness to bend in an attempt to reach further and wider. It becomes a way of managing; one that says, “we’re all adults
here, let’s just do what needs to get done,” rather than micromanaging tasks and having everyone and everything look exactly the way you envisioned it. Inflexible managers generally stay in lower level, task-driven positions. If they do rise to higher levels it is often to perform the dirtiest and least creative work. I found that once I appreciated the ways I did things was not necessarily the only or the best (the naiveté of inexperience), the easier it was to manage. The beauty of adapting a flexible style is the unexpected that occurs and the way it infiltrates other aspects of your life. Though challenging when you first start off, the ability to roll with the punches and accept people from their perspectives also makes for a less stressful and more productive team.

Leadership: It’s sad to say but there is a serious lack of leadership in the present day workplace. Shortened deadlines, immediate goals, constant measures, have forced many of us to think in very shortsighted ways and manage our groups accordingly. Leaders have and espouse vision and long-range. They transmit to those they lead a sense of the future and are able to map out the direction it will take to get there. Leaders also exude a confidence, an assuredness that they know what they are doing, and will share their knowledge and skills. People like to be around and work for leaders. They thrive on the sense of purpose the team has and because of that a higher level of satisfaction is
experienced by everyone. Leaders take the hits and accept the blame when things go wrong. They also respect that with authority comes responsibility. There are some natural leaders. You see them in children. This doesn’t mean they also can’t be bred. Many best-known leaders came through the ranks learning from the more experienced. Most people don’t want to lead, they want to be lead.

Here’s your challenge:

Step 1: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself on the three areas — transparency, flexibility, and leadership?

Step 2: Stand in your direct reports’ shoes. How would they rate you?

Step 3: How would you rate your supervisor? Which of these qualities does he/she exhibit and where is there opportunity? How would your work life be different if your boss practiced more transparency, flexibility, or showed greater leadership?

What are you willing to do to advance, change, or examine to become a better supervisor? And, how would you make it happen?

For many managers and leaders, hiring a coach is a part of the plan. If your organization supports coaching, ask how you might be considered. Assigning a coach is an investment on the part of the company, not a sign of trouble with you. If there is not a coaching initiative, or you’re not sure, ask. Approach your supervisor; speak with the talent development person or an HR professional. This type of query is common and seen as an interest in professional growth. Another tactic is to hire a coach privately. Many people do just that either because it is not offered in their place of work or they want to keep their query private. Most coaches work with a combination of clients who come to them in various ways.

You have an accountant, probably a lawyer, and maybe a trainer; people clean your clothes, cut your hair, maintain your car, BUT in the area where you spend the most time and energy, earn most if not all of your income, you are alone. Does this make sense?

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.