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How good managers command respect from their people

Many managers—especially new ones—believe that the key to being a good boss is to be likeable. Why, then, are so many people both likeable AND bad managers? After all, don’t most lunch time gripe sessions start with, “My boss…well, he’s a great guy. I really like him, but…”, and end with a list of grievances?

Being liked as a manager is luxury, but it’s not essential. There is, however, on thing that every good manager must be: respected.

I think there are four behaviors effective managers use to command respect from their teams.

Clarity: Clarity allows an employee to understand the rules of the game and how to win it. It is different from micromanagement. Clarity is about laying out vision, objectives and intent. Micromanaging is doing that AND dictating every detail of execution. Being clear with vision and allowing flexibility on execution motivates smart employees; dictating execution drains them.

Consistency: Good bosses are very careful about moving a target they’ve set with an employee. Of course, change happens in the middle of projects, and communicating change is important. But so is allowing employees room to do great work and to feel like they are making progress. Before throwing a change at them, good bosses review and validate the work that has been done by an employee. Only then do they communicate a change in scope and the reasons behind it. This takes discipline, but increases respect.

High Expectations: Think about your school experience. You may have liked the easy teachers, but did you really come to respect them over time? My guess is that it’s the teachers who challenged you and, therefore, taught you something, that you truly appreciate now. Good bosses are the same way.

Yes, high expectations can be taken too far. Respected bosses balance challenging their employees with making them feel valued. When that balance is off, the employee is either bored or burned out.

Customization: Forgive the parenting analogy, but anyone with more than one child knows that trying the same approach with different kids is a disaster. Kids come wired differently, and so do employees. Respected bosses get to know their employees on a deep enough level to know what makes them tick, and tailor their management styles accordingly.

So, give these behaviors a whirl and get some of that respect! And, if you get respect, you may find that your employees like you, too.


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