Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown – knowledge passed down in writing since the time of King Arthur, maybe even long before then. You have to apply emotional intelligence if you want to be a great boss.
As a boss, whether of a huge corporate organisation, a small advertising agency or even your own startup, you have to wear many caps. Boss. Leader. Father. Mentor. Friend. Disciplinarian. It’s almost like getting married – except that in this case you have several wives, which means dealing with several personalities and temperaments all at the same time, day in day out.
It’s not easy. But then, if it were, everyone would be doing it.
In the middle of this enormous pressure is your own personal life too. You have kids, you have a wife/husband, parents, cousins – the list goes on. Or maybe you’re single. Luckily, that does make it easier, in a manner of speaking.
However, the point is you have to learn to be several things to several people. We all have different personalities and temperaments. However, being a leader has little or nothing to do with personality/temperament.
This is where emotional intelligence plays a huge part.
In all the caps the boss is supposed to wear, the purpose is straightforward – to equip your team/employees/mentees to the best of your ability. If the team succeeds, the credit goes to them, and if the team fails, the blame goes to the boss.
Unfair? Maybe. But then nobody said life is fair.
It’s just like being a shepherd. There are all kinds of sheep in the fold; it is the shepherd’s responsibility to assign responsibilities. He is to identify the natural leaders and keep them in front of the herd. He has to be able to tell the strongest, fastest, the stragglers and lazy ones. He has to be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each in the herd and position them accordingly. Otherwise, the entire herd is in jeopardy.
Just like the manager of a football team.
Sometimes, empowering your staff is not about training or seminars or workshops. It could be something as simple as providing a listening ear, creating a conducive work environment, or putting them in the way of good advice. Sometimes, it could just be making yourself available.
‘Familiarity breeds contempt’is another age-old saying suggesting that the more you’re used to someone, the more the one is likely to take you for granted. On the surface, this holds true. However, I’d like to believe that it is relative just like most other things.
This is what I mean.
There are people who dated through secondary school, got married and after thirty, forty or fifty years later, still treat each other as though they only met an hour ago. In the same vein, we have people who met a week ago and can barely stand the sight of each other a week later. Familiarity is present in both scenarios – but it isn’t solely to blame.
I do not believe a boss is a superior specie to those he leads. Of course, I don’t expect a boss to behave in an irresponsible manner – like getting drunk on an evening out with the team – but he shouldn’t be ‘too good’ for such an evening out. Emotional bonding is good for productivity, and work doesn’t avail that kind of opportunity.
There are also different kinds of leadership styles. I have worked with someone who thought we were alive to work, so all we ever did at the office was work. So he delivered on his mandate but ended up alienating everyone from himself.
I’ve also worked with someone who managed to find a balance. He would tell us what to do and when to get it done. If by the stipulated time, the work wasn’t ready there better be a compelling reason – like someone died or something. But he was always smiling, never raised his voice and was friendly with everyone.
Who do you think achieved more?
The best thing any boss can do for his staff is to make them feel comfortable around their work and around him. There’s no way someone who is happy to see his boss and happy to be at work will fail at his job.
Except, of course, his village witches are very much around him.