Several months ago, I wrote a post about being a horrible boss. Today, I’ll focus on ways to be a better leader by analyzing a piece written by Duncan Niederauer, CEO at NYSE Euronext, for Esquire Magazine. It’s titled, “How To Be A Good Boss.”

The following are the major points I uncovered from Duncan’s piece followed by my comments:

1) You’re more of a communicator vs. strategist most of the time.

Inspiring a shared vision is one of the five practices of The Leadership Challenge. Once the ship leaves the dock, meaning the strategy and direction are in motion, everyone has a personal stake. The best a leader can do is – listen to the team, ensure they have what they need, and put them in position to win.

2) Build a diverse management team with scar tissue.

Don’t assemble your team with thoughts of winning a popularity contest or being politically correct. Surround yourself with people that have experienced different situations. They’ve tasted victory, experienced defeat, and have scraped knees and damaged egos to show for it. I’ve always learned more from someone who told me how they got their ass kicked.

3) Do you lead by nurturing or intimidation?

Some lead by position and use fear to get things done. In the short run, they might be successful.  Long term, they’re putting undue stress on the team. If this is your leadership style, my guess is your best players have mentally checked out. They’re updating their CV looking to jump to the next gig.

The best leaders are curious and uncover the dormant potential in their players. They have a high degree of emotional intelligence and know exactly when to lead, mentor, coach, and advise. Their team is empowered to crush their goals and individual confidence soars.

4) Give people several chances.

CEO Mike, a leader I admire and worked for, told me one of the hardest parts of leading is letting people make their own mistakes. “It’s a tough thing to watch. You’re resisting the urge to jump in and fix it” he said. Mike realized by empowering people to make their own decisions, he was strengthening the bench for the long term.

5) Bad news is better than no news.

I agree with Lanny Davis – former adviser to President Clinton – tell it all, tell it early, and tell it yourself. Keeping bad news at bay, that affects an individual or the organization is usually never a good idea. Shielding the unknown leads to gossip and many unproductive hours. The quicker you deliver the news, the better off they’ll be.

6) Be relevant in all your interactions.

Leadership requires lots of energy. Leaders are cooking a half dozen meals at the same time. If you’re fortunate to get a meeting with the big dog, make sure you add value and provide information that’s going to move the organization forward. Otherwise, you might not be invited back any time soon.

7) The leader puts the company first.

In August 2012, investment firm Knight Capital lost over $440M in one day due to a software program glitch. Tom Joyce, Knight’s CEO, took a page out of Lanny Davis’s playbook. He quickly met with the media to tell what happened, describe the current situation, and where they were going. Joyce assured customers, over and over, they were not impacted by the faux pas. He wasn’t concerned how he’d be perceived. Joyce’s priorities were – what’s best for the employees, investors, customers, and the firm. That was a leadership moment if I ever saw one.

After looking at the list, you can see it doesn’t take much to be a good boss. Though, for many, it’s easier said than done.

What are your “good boss” ideas? Please comment below.

p.s. Love FedEx’s golf commercials. Enjoy the video.

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