Remembering terrible bosses is easy. I bet you can still list everything they did wrong years after having worked for them.
But what about the really good bosses? How did they manage to bring out the best in you and could you become one?
There’s actually a name for this kind of leader: the “superboss.”
“A superboss is a leader, a boss, a manager, who helps other people accomplish more than they ever thought possible,” said Sydney Finkelstein, professor of management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and the man who coined the phrase. “As a result, they accelerate the careers of those people that work for them.”
Finkelstein, author of “Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent,” spoke to Money Talking host Charlie Herman about the qualities superbosses have and why their hiring practices can make for a better workplace. Finkelstein also wrote about the subject for the Harvard Business Review, “Secrets of the Superbosses.”
Here are some ways they do it:
1. They generate a talent network. They surround themselves with good people and therefore create a better work environment. And by helping other people do well and move up in their careers, they generate a network of former employees who can help them out in the future.
2. They’re always on the lookout for talent. “Wherever they’re going, they got their opportunity antenna up.” Finkelstein said. Which also means they create jobs for people they like, even if they aren’t looking to fill a specific spot. And they’re not afraid to hire people who are smarter than them.
3. They hire outside the box. Superbosses, like chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, look for unusual people and talents despite experience. “She’d hire people who sometimes didn’t even work as a chef in the past,” Finkelstein said. “Because she thought they had that something special.”
4. They move employees around. They make employees try different positions within workplace. Finkelstein said Gene Roberts, executive editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, used to move reporters from the sports desk to the investigative department. “This is in the DNA of superbosses,” Finkelstein said. “And anyone can replicate that idea.”
5. They look to inspire. Superbosses create an team environment where everybody counts. That keeps employees motivated and engaged.
6. They focus on performance. While managers tend to be more focused on efficiency, superbosses prioritize performance and effectiveness.
7. They don’t focus on being nice or keeping thing easy. Working for a superboss isn’t for everyone. “Not everybody wants to work that hard,” Finkelstein said. “Not everybody has that type of aspiration.”