10 Gifts Great Leaders Give

Kris Taylor of K Taylor & Associates in Lafayette authored this holiday post as part of her Evergreen Leadership program. The “gifts” apply no matter the time of year.

I’ve worked with great leaders, mediocre leaders and one or two really poor leaders. I’ve done my work, to the best of my ability, with all of them. I’ve learned from all of them. Yet in reflecting back, the really great leaders gave me many great gifts.

These are the gifts that last over time. They are not very tangible but are always present. They’re gifts that altered the way I saw myself, or my situation, or the world around me – gifts that stuck, that keep on giving.

 I am eternally blessed by and grateful for these gifts.

  1. Confidence in my abilities, my potential, my judgment and my integrity
  2. Wisdom by sharing freely their truths, experiences and knowledge
  3. Mentoring and coaching to guide me to a better place, always challenging, at times seeing more in me than I could see myself
  4. Opportunities to test my skills and learn new ones, ones that pushed me further than I was comfortable with at the time
  5. Support for when I failed myself or others
  6. Unconditional respect even at my worst times
  7. Perspective and vision, especially when I wallowed in my narrow view of the situation
  8. Courage to do the things that are right, but not necessarily easy
  9. Focus on results insisting that I follow through, do what I was charged to do and to find ways to overcome the inevitable obstacles
  10. Navigation through the organization, helping me learn how these people in this place get work done

My challenge is this: rather than giving “things” this year, which of these 10 gifts might you give at work? At home? In your community?

Is Your Boss a Psychopath? Let’s Hope Not

It’s hard out there for the working professional. The last thing you need is a manager who is less than stable. That’s fortunately not a problem for me, but below are some things to keep in mind. Ragan has the info:

He’s smartly dressed, always early, and has a fancy corner office. He looks put together, but you know the truth: Your boss is a psychopath.
You just haven’t been able to prove it—until now.

In a new infographic, LearnStuff.com lists all the facts you need to get him or her admitted. For example, here are the traits of a psychopathic boss:

  • Manipulative, yet charming.
  • Lacks empathy and remorse.
  • Expert at masking his or her true self.

You knew it. Your boss qualifies! But before you call up the authorities, consider these stats:

  • Your boss is four times more likely to be a psychopath than the average person.
  • Thirty percent of workers would have their boss seen by a psychologist.
  • More than 2 million people leave their jobs every year; one out of six quit because of their bosses.

Something has to be done. Having a bad boss can increase your chance of heart disease by 25 percent, which makes reporting to him as bad for your heart as passive smoking. Not to mention, a stressed worker—like someone suffering under a mad man—weighs, on average, 10 pounds more than a relaxed peer.

Schmooze the Boss

Everybody has a boss. Even CEOs answer to boards. And sometimes, unfortunately, your boss is a miserable, miserable person who makes your career seem like (to borrow a quote from "Jerry Maguire") an "up-at-dawn, pride swallowing siege." PR Daily offers some thoughts on dealing with your personal Sorcerer of Suffering:

Here’s how:

  1. Establish work preferences with them early in the relationship. Ask them how you can best help make their job easier. Soliciting feedback is essential and helps to diffuse tense situations before they escalate.
  2. Don’t engage with craziness or take it personally. You are never going to win an argument with someone who isn’t rational. Instead, turn the demand or rant your boss spouted into a calm and positive opportunity. Don’t get defensive. Apologize if you truly made a mistake and arm yourself with solutions. “So it seems you weren’t happy with the situation. Here are some ideas regarding how we can fix things and move forward.”
  3. Always follow up with clarification, in writing. After a meeting or a call, send a quick email with a bulleted list about your action items and responsibilities based on the discussion. And make sure you include deadlines. (For example: “I will complete the report by 2:00 p.m. and appreciate your feedback by 4:00 p.m. so we can send it out by 5:00 p.m.”).
  4. Praise them. Yes, this is where some humility comes into play. Thank them when they provide you with clear direction. Tell them how much you learned from them by watching their presentation, etc. Most tough bosses thrive on positive feedback and want to be admired. Bonus points if you do this in front of other colleagues.
  5. Over communicate. Frequently provide positive email updates. Not only are you documenting your work and achievements, but you are preempting any complaints they may have about you not working fast or smart enough. These updates can be sent even if the project is not completed, or if it has hit a speed bump. “I completed half of the media list and although there are dozens of editorial changes, I’ve also uncovered some great new contacts. I’ll have something to share with you in another hour.”

    Understand that you can’t change others, but you can change how you relate to them. With some practice, you’ll become a pro at dealing with difficult clients and managers and enjoy a happy and productive career.