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Here is a recap of an article appearing in McKinsey Quarterly titled “Why good bosses tune in to their people” written by Stanford professor Robert Sutton.  It emphasizes that, if you are a boss, your subordinates are constantly watching you.

Why Being A Good Boss Matters

Many studies show that for a majority of employees dealing with their boss is the most stressful part of their job.  That should come as a surprise to most of you.  How can that be?  I’m easy to deal with.  Here this.  In a 2009 Swedish study of over 3,000 men over a ten year period that those with bad bosses suffered 20% to 40% more heart attacks than those with good bosses.  So it is important to be a good boss.

Who do you influence the most?  Your direct reports.  Those immediately under you.  These are the ones who you interact with the most and who you expect to implement your ideas.  Remember your success depends on how well they do.

Ever hear the phrase, “A company is a shadow of its leader”?  Your people watch you whether you like it or not.  They will often mimic your behavior because they assume that the way you act is how you expect them to act.  Reflect on that if you are not getting the results from your direct reports that you want.  Could this be part of it?

Taking Control

Bosses often get more that 50% of the credit or blame for the performance of their company or area of responsibility when in reality it is probably no more than 15%.  Whether you like it or not accept the fact that you are perceived to have this much influence over results.  Here are four suggestions Professor Sutton has for creating the illusion that you are in control.

1)  Express confidence even if you don’t feel it.

Even if it is a fake it until you make it strategy this is better than showing indecision.  In many cases if you act confident you become more confident.

2)  Don’t dither.

Make the decision already!  If only to create the illusion that you know what you are doing.  You can always change your mind.

3)  Get and give credit.

Thank others for making you look good.  Praise goes a long way and we don’t offer it enough.  Our people want to be recognized.  Do it.

4)  Blame yourself.

Studies show that leaders who accept all or part of the blame for things gone wrong are seen as more powerful, competent and likeable that those who deny responsibility.

Bolstering performance

Here are three suggestions Sutton makes to increase the performance of your people.

1)  Provide psychological safety

Encourage conversation among your team where it is safe to talk about anything.  Support creativity where making a mistake is considered learning and not punished.

2)  Shield people

Protect them from the judgments of others in the organization, especially if they have made a mistake.  Often times there are several handprints on the mistake not just one.

3)  Make small gestures

Acknowledge small successes frequently and publicly.  Celebrate large wins with everyone.

Are you getting the results you deserve because of the way you show up?

Consider Reading This

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni.  Another leadership fable by Lencioni where he emphasizes the four disciplines to build and maintain a cohesive leadership team by creating organizational clarity, communicating organizational clarity, and reinforcing it through human systems.