Finding the Kind of Leadership That We Should All Aspire To

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May 27, 2015

“You know, your butt looks so bad in the outfit you’re wearing, that I was surprised when I touched it, it felt good.”

Imagine hearing that on a date, or in the office, or on a date at your office party, or even your boss hitting on you at the office or at a party. Pretty horrible don’t you think, especially if you were the one experiencing it.

This was actually a real dating story referenced in one of my favorite podcasts called StartUp from Gimlet Media. It’s actually from their season two opener about a new dating/matchmaking startup called Dating Ring.

Workers (and managers) are still pretty unhappy

Unfortunately there are too many horrible true stories about how crappy we actually treat each other on the job, especially when we’re the boss. This is the stuff employees never forget. We talked about this at length on the TalentCulture #TChat Show with Tony Deblauwe, Founder of consulting firm HR4Change.

It doesn’t help that we’re still faced with a difficult and complex economic landscape, one we’ve never before seen in the modern world.

Regardless of the job growth of late and unemployment plummeting, wages are still pretty flat and employers and workers are under a great deal of strain to produce. That combined with those who have limited to no impulse control, and those with no boundary-setting skills, and you’ve got thousands of annual EEOC sexual harassment complaints, and more.

Here’s what makes a great boss

But according to Gallup, employee engagement inched up a bit over the past three years. However, 7 out of 10 employees are still unhappy overall. Managers, executives and officers fared a little better, but there’s still 6 out of 10 unhappy bosses out there.

So much for empowering the workplace.

But if you flip the numbers, think about that we can and do empower, and, that there are happier and engaged employees and business leaders out there. I work with them; I am them.

Maybe you are, too. Sure, we make stupid mistakes and maybe do the occasional inappropriate thing (but not the egregious ones), but no one is perfect.

Sometimes, what simply makes a good boss great is the consistent ability to listen and provide appropriate responses for even the most seemingly benign of comments. It’s about sharing insight with his or her team, department, and company that is heartfelt and true and yet not divergent from growing a successful business.

Here’s what we should all aspire to

Since I work remotely, I only get to see my team once every month or two. Recently we had an off site to brainstorm and team build and strategize and all the things you do when you have an off site. It was invaluable bonding and planning time, as always, but our boss said something to us all that really resonated, something I’ve said in similar ways to teams of my own.

She told us that while the big “L” leadership (executive management) is important to business success, the little “l” leadership is what is critical – for each of us to strive to be leaders of self and leaders among peers, to be the truest empowerment of the workplace, one where we all can reap both the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

This is also the stuff we never forget and the part we wish the other 60 percent of disengaged managers aspired to, the part when the boss touches our hearts and not our butts.

This was originally published on Kevin Grossman’s Reach West blog.