Boss, or Coach?: How to Earn Loyalty and Boost Productivity

Businessman learning how to earn loyalty and boost productivityAre you an effective boss? Does the word “boss” make you swell with pride or cringe with awkwardness? Are you comfortable in your role as a leader? The answers to these questions may be found by taking a long look in the mirror. Depending on your level of insight, you might hope, like a certain fairy tale princess, that the mirror actually talks to you!

However, there’s another way to gauge how you’re doing as a leader. Stop taking a look at yourself, and take a look at your employees. Your employees’ behavior will likely tell you all you need to know about how you stack up as a boss, and what changes you might need to make.

It takes a bit of bravery to make an honest assessment of yourself as a boss. We’re here to help you through it by presenting some common types of bosses, and to show you how perhaps the best boss isn’t really a boss at all. Read on to find out what type of boss you are now, and how to become a better leader.

Boss, or Coach?: How to Earn Loyalty and Boost Productivity

3 Types of Bosses:

When the cat’s away… – The Micro Manager

The Micro Manager has such a short leash on their team, you’d think they have everything under control.  And they do. That’s the problem. Once this boss steps away for an instant, everything goes haywire. Either the employees are so used to having someone constantly guide them that they can’t take independent action, or they’re so relieved to have a moment to breathe, they throw a party.

You’ll recognize whether or not you’re The Micro Manager when you return to work from a brief vacation.  Is there chaos? Or, do you find yourself feeling like you’re unable to take a vacation at all? These are tell-tale signs of The Micro Manager, and this type of leadership isn’t healthy for your, or any, organization.

Who’s the Boss? – The Absentee Leader

The Absentee Leader seems pretty self-explanatory.  You may be exempting yourself from this category if you show up every day.  But, not so fast. There’s showing up, and then there’s being present.  You may technically be there, but are you actively engaged?  Do you make a beeline for your office and stay there most of the day?  Is a lot of the work you do for your business out of the office? Do you interact with your employees on a regular basis?  If not, unfortunately, you may be The Absentee Leader.

One way to find out whether or not you’re The Absentee Leader is to take a look at who your employees tend to rely on.  Often, with The Absentee Leader, a Surrogate Leader will develop from the senior ranks of your staff and step in to take up your slack.  Also, take a look at new employees. After a couple of weeks, when you talk with them, do they seem a little caught off guard when you identify yourself as the boss?  That’s a red alert.

They’ll never take….OUR FREEDOM! – The Motivational Speaker

This boss is one of the most loved of the different types of bosses and seems the closest to the Coach that we’ll be discussing next. If employees have experienced The Micro Manager or The Absentee Leader, they will be relieved to experience The Motivational Speaker boss.  This certainly isn’t someone who is breathing down their neck like The Micro Manager, and, because their speeches often seem so passionate and involved, they don’t get clocked as The Absentee Leader. However, the flaw of The Motivational Speaker is that they are all bluster, no brawl.  They’ll whip you up and make you feel like you can take on the world, but they won’t get in there and give you the map or tools for how to do it. You’ll feel the confusion of being inspired, and, a little lost – at the same time.

You’ll know you’re The Motivational Speaker type when you find that everything seems to be going really well, except for the results.  Your staff seems to like you, be loyal to you, and eager to reach the goals that you set for them, but every time you look at the markers for those results, your team isn’t meeting them.  Your business is running on the fumes of good intentions.

Coach – The Boss You Want to Be:

If you’ve identified yourself as any of the less-than-effective types of bosses above, don’t fret. With some subtle, yet significant changes, you can move more into the role of The Coach boss. What is a Coach Boss, you may ask?  Sure, it sounds a little newfangled. Maybe even like something a celebrity might name their child. But trust us, this is the way to go if you want to create a strategy for effective leadership. Here are the skills and attitudes you’ll need:

Detailed, but not Stressed

The Coach is just as concerned about the details of their business as The Micro Manager. They communicate their concern and passion for their business to their employees, but they have one thing that The Micro Manager doesn’t: trust.  The coach brings employees in that they can trust to treat their product or service with the same intensity that they themselves would. The Coach knows that they can’t do everything themselves, and they’ve made peace with that fact. The team feels the pressure of excellence, but also the confidence of knowing that they are capable of meeting that excellence on their own. If you don’t trust your staff, you may need to consider making some changes to your team. Or, if when you really think about you realize that your staff is capable, you may need to work on reminding yourself of that fact more often.  

Present, but not Overbearing

Unlike The Absentee Leader, The Coach is actively engaged with their employees. Full stop. The Coach makes time for their staff, and if they find that they have too much on their plate, they take a fork and find a way to shove stuff around to make room.  They delegate tasks such as paperwork and meetings outside the agency if they find that those things are preventing them from frequent face time with their team. If you find that you’re doing the opposite – if you’re actually making excuses or finding ways to avoid your employees, you may have some deep-dive work to do to find out why.  This could be about your employees, your business, or you.

Note: Even introverts can be effective bosses, and put in enough time with employees to be effective.

Encouraging, but Realistic

Successful boss boosting productivity within the business teamAs mentioned before, The Motivational Speaker comes closest, on the surface, to The Coach.  But when asked to provide more than encouragement, The Motivational Speaker comes up empty-handed.  This is where The Coach truly shines, and the difference is clear. The Coach is able to provide their team with specific tools to meet the goals that they’ve gotten them all fired up about.  The Coach is also scanning, constantly aware of the struggles their staff is experiencing. Instead of taking a Pollyanna approach and glossing them over, The Coach will step in with help for the employee to rescue themselves.  The Coach is constantly teaching, instructing and building confidence – not just with elevated words, but with strategies and practical steps toward progress.

So, which are you?  A boss, or a coach? We hope that we’ve given you some insights, as well as some ideas for change, if change is needed. 

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