5 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Boss

May 16, 2021
Wally Bock

When researchers reviewed studies of bosses’ success and failure, they found failure rates from 30 to 60 percent. There are lots of reasons for those sorry numbers. We don’t do a great job of selecting people for success as a boss. We barely train the ones we do select.

But none of that matters to you. If you’re responsible for the performance of a group, you’re a boss. You want to be the exception. You want to succeed. Here are five things you can start doing right away that will increase your odds of success.

Touch Base a Lot

I’m not talking about official meetings. I’m talking about personal contact during the normal workday. Check on how your team members are doing, in their whole life and the small part of it devoted to work. Use the richest medium that’s comfortable for your team member.

Have Conversations

When you talk with team members, have real conversations. Real conversations take at least two people. Everyone should talk and everyone should listen. That sounds like simple, third-grade stuff.  But too many “conversations” between bosses and team members aren’t conversations at all.

Real conversations build relationships. At some point, you’re going to have difficult conversations with every teammate. Building a relationship reduces the number of difficult conversations. It also makes it more likely that the ones you have will come out right. Conversations prepare the ground.

Get the Team Together

Have at least one meeting a week where the team gets together. Start with a check-in so people know how other team members are doing. Research from MIT indicates the most successful teams provide social support for team members. Check-in is a way to make sure that happens.

Every team member should be expected to comment and offer help. They should also share what they’re working on, what they expect to accomplish, and what help they need.

Get Out of the Way

Let people work. Don’t have meetings for things that can be handled better in other ways. Don’t require reports that don’t make a difference.

It’s probably human nature that you’ll be tempted to peer over people’s shoulders and see what they’re doing. Resist that temptation. Give your team members as much control as possible over their work life.

That doesn’t mean you should leave people alone when you have a legitimate concern about the quantity or quality of their work. Voice your concern. Talk about it with the person.

Use the Magic Words

You remember the magic words from when you were a kid. One of them is “please.” Oh, sure, you’re the big-boss-muckety-muck and you can tell people to do things. But you’ll do better if you ask and use the magic word.

The other magic word is “thank you.” Thank people for the work they do. Thank them for their effort. Thank them for helping others.


Touch base a lot.

Have conversations that build relationships.

Get the team together to make sure everyone’s on the same page and moving forward.

Get out of the way.

Use the magic words, “please” and “thank you.”

More From Wally Bock

Leadership: Over the Hills and Far Away

Your Purpose Doesn't Need to be Earth-Saving

Why and How to Become a Helpful Boss

In addition to writing the Three Star Leadership blog, Wally Bock is an author, ghostwriter, writing coach and book doctor. In his past lives he has run a small publishing company, been a popular keynote speaker to audiences around the world, and served as a U. S. Marine. He loves good beer, good friends, and good stories.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

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