Different people want to see different traits in a leader. Some want their boss to be relaxed, some want their boss to push them harder. The best leaders tend to blend traits. It is crucial for leaders today to strike the right balance as we face uncertain times in the pandemic. This article describes 10 qualities in a boss that team members want to see.
People around the world now appear to place less meaning on their occupation and career, which means more people are prepared to leave their job. This also means it is even more important to be a good boss, because managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement, according to extensive Gallup research.
No matter what style people want, there are common traits every team member looks for in their leader. If their boss doesn’t have most of these traits, their team members start looking for other jobs – they will look for more meaning in their lives and better qualities in a boss elsewhere.
Pew Research Center found this in a 2021 US survey. The two leading sources of meaning in life had dropped over a four-year period to 2021 in peoples’ opinion. These sources relate to a person’s occupation/career, and also material wellbeing, which could be based on their rate of pay.
The proportion of people who achieved meaning in their occupation and career had dropped from 19% in 2017 to 11% in 2021. Also, the proportion of people who found meaning in life from material wellbeing, stability and quality of life plunged from 29% to 18% over the same period, as shown in the chart below:
Chart: Pew Research Center survey 2021.
A Pew survey in 2022 found that the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs in 2021 were low pay (63%), a lack of opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%). The figures reflected growing dissatisfaction with their work, and a growing feeling that they could leave their job behind. This can be seen in figures charting “The Great Resignation,” below. These changes reflect the fact that people want better qualities in a boss who will respect them, create opportunities for advancement and will try to offer them competitive pay.
According to a Deloitte study, organizations should develop leadership qualities in employees at every level. Great leaders work toward creating a positive work environment that helps everyone work at their highest potential.
As a team leader, your focus should be on both the growth of your team as a whole and grooming team members on a personal level. Employees look forward to working with just and compassionate leaders. Your approach can vary depending on various aspects such as the needs of the organization, your own personal style, and the group you are working with. But the core of any leadership should include some basic elements.
Here are 10 qualities that can help you know as a boss how to nurture a team to achieve highly productive results – and also for you as a team member to understand the qualities you can reasonably expect to see in your boss. A good boss:
One of the clearest ways to show your team members you genuinely care about their well-being is to arrange excellent benefits for them – within organizational guidelines – and make them feel secure in the workplace, especially in view of the changes they face when working remotely or in hybrid mode. Ensuring they get all the benefits they are entitled to helps a team to perform better. Such benefits include social security, perks and bonuses, paid vacations, and health insurance. In addition, the pandemic has increased employees’ expressed need for more mental health support, and some are seeking flexible-leave arrangements, possible family-building (fertility and adoption) support, paid employee sabbaticals, greater learning and development opportunities, and student loan relief, according to an SHRM article in 2022. As a result, employers need to be more flexible than in the past.
This greater flexibility lets workers know their boss has their back, that they are appreciated, and they can expect good qualities in their boss. At the same time, due to “The Great Resignation” trend, you are well advised to raise the issue with top management that employees are expecting more than in the past. Employee benefits firms can help you sort out packages based on your organization’s needs and what team members want.
In addition, heads of communication need to be aware that not all employees appreciate or are even fully aware of all the benefits available to them. They should support HR by initiating and coordinating organization-wide communication with HR staff. “Ongoing communications and assessing both usage and employee sentiment can help ensure that workers understand and value the benefits they’re being offered,” says SHRM. Recent trends include more regular communication through multiple approaches such as email messages, home mailings, Slack/chat discussions and benefits questions being asked at staff meetings.
According to TimeDoctor, 88% of the workforce says that their boss being a good listener is a priority for them. However, only 60% feel that their boss is one. That’s a large gap to bridge. Being able to listen and respond well to your employees is crucial in increasing their engagement.
A leader who listens to their team members and genuinely responds with appropriate feedback creates a clear path of communication. The secret to the success of any team lies in good communication.
Your team should know that they can approach you at all times to speak their minds. It leads to better productivity and efficiency as a team can brainstorm freely in a safe environment in which ideas are encouraged.
Organizational skills are often overlooked in leadership discussions. A team leader’s job just isn’t getting their employees to deliver results, it is also planning and managing/coordinating their team’s work.
Once you have your team’s plan, objectives, and strategies all planned and laid in front of you, it becomes easier to execute these and derive desired performance out of your team. It helps your team members perform optimally as their roles are now clearly defined.
It minimizes confusion and lets everyone know what is expected of them. You can put systems in place that help you establish order and guide your team members better. It may take time at first but after some time, you will notice how smoothly things flow.
A necessary skill in today’s trying times is adaptability. You need to be able to adapt to different kinds of working environments both in physical working conditions as well as virtual. Leading teams in virtual working wording conditions is admittedly hard. This is where you need to learn and adapt to the newer conditions. Adaptability also means delegating work appropriately.
Recognizing someone is better equipped than you to do it helps your team see that you are self-aware enough to put your own self-interest behind the team’s.
This may be one of the unspoken traits people look for in their boss. No one wants to work under someone who only talks the talk and doesn’t walk the walk. One of the most proactive ways of creating a positive work environment is leading by example. Display the behavior you expect from your team yourself. Let them follow your lead. Do the same in team meetings. You can make unexpected creative suggestions which let the team know that any and all ideas will be appreciated and no one will think them silly as participation is much more important. It also helps break the ice among team members.
A great team leader treats all their team members fairly. Leaders who play favorites end up damaging the team dynamic as their team gets discouraged by not having their hard work recognized.
Employee recognition plays a key role in boosting the morale and efficiency of employees. By being fair to their efforts, recognizing them, and rewarding them on merit, you encourage them to do better in the future.
Being fair is often confused with being strict. Being fair only means that you do not give undue advantage to anyone on the team. It actually helps in establishing transparent communication and dynamic within your team.
This is a trait you should have regardless of whether you are a team leader or not. Being kind and compassionate goes a long way in building a positive working environment around you.
Being fair doesn’t mean you can’t be compassionate to your team members. In fact, it is the opposite. Being fair and kind with your team lets them see that you truly care about their well-being and are willing to help them should they get stuck.
Have casual chats with them from time to time. Help them establish a work-life balance. Advise them on maintaining their physical and mental well-being. Your team will be sure to appreciate your efforts.
Every team member looks up to leaders who are passionate and inspirational. If you are not passionate about a cause, why should your team be? This applies along the whole spectrum from single projects to the overall goals of your organization.
You should strive to inspire your team to perform at their fullest potential. Let them know you have complete faith in them. Motivate them to do better and that you have their back.
Share your honest feedback with them and point out opportunities to help them perform better. Simply sharing a motivational quote or two at the start of the day can help lift an employee’s mood and help them be their best self (but don’t overdo it).
Trust is vital within every team. You need to have transparent communication lines and let your employees know you have their best professional interest at heart to help them perform better.
Employees should feel safe and fairly treated to be able to focus on their roles. If they feel that they are unfairly treated, they won’t trust you with anything. They may be inclined to hold information back or not step up when needed.
A team leader who refuses to learn from their mistakes can harm their team in the long run. Leaders should be learners first. They should be willing to admit their mistakes and try to learn from them and not repeat them in the future. Allow your team to point out your mistakes and work towards bettering yourself. This will let your team see that you are on the same page as them. You are one of them on this journey together.
Be flexible, always keep trying new things. Even if you fail at them, know that you can always try again and that your team is always by your side. It encourages your team to do the same.
Gallup research reveals that only about one in ten people are natural leaders. Leadership skills take time to develop, so ask for feedback from your employees. Know what they want from you and deliver on it. Always keep communication lines open and be on your toes.
Don’t get impatient, as developing certain traits and new ways of working takes time. Being a good leader is certainly a tall order but one worth aspiring to. You can aim to achieve more qualities as a boss, which will give you and your team more job satisfaction.
Top photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash
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