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Tuesday
May292012

Core beliefs of extraordinary bosses

It's been so long since I've worked for a bad boss that I tend not to think a lot about what makes someone a good person for whom to work. (Although I hear plenty of complaints from family members about their own supervisors, so bad bosses do exist.)

My guess is that most of us have learned how to boss other people by experiencing being bossed ourselves - for good or for ill. (The term "boss" has such a perjorative slant - couldn't we use supervisor, manager, team leader???.)

Anyway this online article caught my eye: 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses by Geoffrey James, Inc. April 23, 2012 (via Stephen's Lighthouse). While James is writing about the business world, these beliefs seem especially applicable to school library and technology departments. James's words are in bold; mine aren't. Extraordinary bosses believe:

  1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield. Library and technology leaders understand this. Our departments support teachers, administrators, and students. Our own success can only be measured by how successful we make others. We need to be fighting for those we serve, not against other departments.
  2. A company is a community, not a machine. Again our success is dependent on the relationships we build with others. Whether it is with our knowledgeable and skilled technicians or our teaching staff or administrators in other departments, our codependency makes us a community. And while we would like to operate sometimes with machine-like rules for everyone, education seems to be a place where effectiveness lies in making exceptions.
  3. Management is service, not control. This is tough for many of us technology folks whose primary goals are security, adequacy, and reliablity. The more control we have over our applications, networks, and equipment, the better we seem to meet these goals. But we too often lose sight that security, adequacy, and reliability are simply a means to providing good service - and too much control can be counterproductive if the technology is not easy-to-use, convenient, and available.
  4. My employees are my peers, not my children. There are two ways of looking at treating people like children. Of course, treating anyone "like a child" is demeaning (even to children). But as more and more of the people who work for me are of my own children's ages, I often think about how I would like my own children treated by their bosses. I hope they have supervisors who help them grow, support their learning, enable their advancement, encourage them to tackle ever bigger responsibilities, and to find ways to make a difference. How much does a good mentor really differ from a good parent?
  5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear. For those of us in libraries and educational technology, this one is pretty easy. The vision has to be no more complex than remembering what we do is always centered on helping kids learn. Period. As much as I would like to put the fear of god into a couple of people around here now and then, I have no clue about how to be scary.
  6. Change equals growth, not pain. Change has been constant and unavoidable in both libraries and technology for twenty years. If the new is painful to you and the members of your department instead of it being exciting, you are all a bunch of masochists and  have stayed in the field too long. Go work at Wal-mart.
  7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation. Good managers understand that making decisions makes a job interesting and fulfilling. All technologies ought to help people solve problems and make good decisions and then carry them out. (Librarians, this is why information literacy skills are the most important things that technology can help teach!) If a computer can do your job - it should.
  8. Work should be fun, not mere toil. If the boss doesn't look forward to coming to work everyday (and I mean every day), how one expect others in the department to look forward to heading to the office? 

Core beliefs or attributes you appreciate in extraordinary bosses?

 

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Reader Comments (2)

<rant>
Thanks for sharing this, Doug! It is absolutely right on. I've been thinking a lot lately about how if we change our pedagogy to a more collaborative, learner oriented exploration of knowledge (whether using PBL or whatever), we need to also change how we manage the staff to accomplish that. When my staff called me "boss", I would always try to remind them I preferred "team leader"
I also am reminded that the word Boss comes from the Dutch Baas - meaning master . Was historically used in South Africa by black folks to address any white man. hmmm
</rant>

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Staal

Hi Tim,

Tough to convince people the days of the time clock are over - it's how much time you put in but what you accomplish that counts anymore. Somehow this upsets the Calvinist spirit of lots of good people.

When is the big move?

Doug

June 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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