Two More Mindsets of Good Bosses

Mindset #2: True Grit
Are you a boss with true grit? What does that mean? And how do you get it right?
“Gritty bosses are driven by the nagging conviction that everything they and their people do could be better if they tried just a little harder or were just a bit more creative,” writes Robert Sutton in Good Boss, Bad Boss
Such bosses instill grit in subordinates. Without creating the impression that everything is an emergency, great bosses have a sense of urgency. They are dogged and patient, sensing when to press forward and when to be flexible.
As Albert Einstein once stated: “It’s not that I am so smart; it is just that I stay with my problems longer.”
University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor of Psychology Angela Duckworth, PhD, and her colleagues define grit as perseverance and passion toward long-term goals.
“Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress,” they wrote in a 2007 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology paper.
Without becoming discouraging, bosses with grit believe that progress isn’t always good enough – that you can never stop learning or rest on your laurels.
Mindset #3: Small Wins Count
If you set big goals to energize and direct people, you can fall into the trap of overwhelming and discouraging them. In the work I do coaching executives, I see this happen all the time.
The path to success is lined with small wins. When you frame goals as a series of small steps, it helps people see the importance of their participation.
Smaller goals also help people make better decisions, sustain motivation and manage stress. When subordinates experience a challenge as too big or complex, they can freeze up. When problems are broken down into bite-sized pieces, a boss inspires clarity, calmness and confidence.
The Questions to Ask Yourself
Mindset #2: True Grit
a. Do you treat work as a marathon or a sprint?
b. Do you look for quick fixes?
c. Do you instill a sense of urgency without treating everything as a crisis?
d. In the face of failures, do you persist or give up?
Mindset #3: Small Wins
a. Do you frame what your people need to do as a series of small, realistic and clear steps?
b. Do you propose grand goals?
c. Do you break things down into bite-sized steps?
What do you think about these two mindsets? What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear from you.

The Mindset of a Great Boss

How can you become a better boss? That’s a good question and an important one. In the work I do coaching, I find that some bosses don’t realize how important their work is to the people they’re in charge of.
Bosses shape how people experience work: joy versus despair, enthusiasm versus complaints, good health versus stress. Most bosses want to be good at what they do, yet many lack the essential mindsets that precede positive actions and behaviors.
If you’re a boss who strives to do great work, I believe the most important task you can do is to adjust your thinking. The beliefs and assumptions you hold about yourself, your work and your people will determine your actions, according to Stanford’s Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss.
“The best bosses embrace five beliefs that are stepping stones to effective action,” he writes.
Mindset #1: Goldilocks Management
Managers who are too assertive will damage relationships with their superiors, peers and subordinates. Conversely, those who aren’t assertive enough will fail to inspire their teams to strive for stretch goals, according to a study conducted by business professors Daniel Ames, PhD, and Francis Flynn, PhD. (of Columbia and Stanford Universities, respectively).
Ames and Flynn speculate that the best bosses would receive an “average” rating from subordinates if measured in competitiveness, aggressiveness, passivity and submission. Stanford experiments confirm that micromanaging employees with relentless attention and advice usually undermines their efforts.
There are times when bosses need to coach people, discipline, communicate direction and intervene. The savviest bosses look for the right moments to apply pressure or encouragement to get the best out of their people. In choosing their moments, they command respect instead of contempt.
The Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Goldilocks Management
        a. Are you managing with just the right degree of assertiveness?
        b. Are you creating ways to walk the line between enough intervention and micromanaging?
        c. Are you neglecting to give your people guidance, wisdom and the feedback they need to succeed?
        d. Are you obsessively monitoring every move and metric?
The best thing you can do right now to start to become a better boss is to explore your mindset. I don’t know of a better way to do that than working with an executive coach who understands the perils of managing with just the right amount of assertiveness.

Killer Bosses

I’ve read a lot of studies that prove the link between a boss’s effectiveness and team performance. But did you know that a good boss can help you live longer? True.
A Swedish study that followed 3,122 men for 10 years found that those with the best bosses (considerate, clear and proactive change agents) suffered fewer heart attacks than did those with bad bosses. Study participants who stayed with good bosses for 4 years had at least a 39 percent lower heart-attack risk, according to coauthor Anna Nyberg, PhD. [Source:]
I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like stress, this is strong motivation for trying to help your boss be as good a boss as possible!
Personality-assessment specialist Robert Hogan, PhD.,researched studies of diverse workers conducted in 1948, 1958, 1968 and 1998 in cities like Baltimore, London, Seattle and Honolulu. In his meta-analysis of postal workers, milk-truck drivers, schoolteachers and other members of the labor force, 75 percent reported that dealing with their immediate supervisor was the most stressful part of the job.
Over the last 30 years, Gallup surveys of more than 100,000 employees in 2,500 diverse businesses have revealed that one’s immediate boss has far more impact on engagement and performance than any other factor. A 2007 Gallup survey of U.S. employees found that 24 percent would fire their bosses if given the chance.
Indeed, 56 percent of disengaged employees cite bad bosses as a primary reason for their unhappiness. People don’t quit their jobs; they quit bad bosses.
Good bosses create employee satisfaction that leads to retention, performance, productivity and profitability. How you treat your direct reports creates a ripple effect that travels down and across your company’s hierarchy, ultimately shaping its culture and performance.
So the question remains, what can you do to help your boss do his or her job? You might not think you can. And quite frankly, with some bosses, that’s a tough thing to try to do.
But I think the question is worth thinking about and formulating ideas and plans.
What do you think? Can some bosses be helped to be better? If they’re going to affect your quality of work-life – and your health – don’t you think it’s worth a try?