Supportive and Patient
She believes in encouragement, not punishment. In Lee Cockerell’s “Creating Magic,” there is an entire chapter devoted to Appreciation, Recognition, and Encouragement (ARE) – part of the mandatory training for all leaders at Disney. The best manager I know is also the only manager, myself included, that I have observed giving out enough ARE. She is patient enough to let her team find their own way to success, and her generous praise motivates and breeds commitment.
Creative and Passionate
You can just tell this manager loves her work. I think her passion fuels her creativity and inspires her to find effective new approaches.
She once created a board in the office to measure performance. She ranked each team member’s results with a sticker on the board. The ranks ranged from “Try-Out” for a not-so-good week to “Starter” to “All Star” for an excellent week. It sounds a little silly, but the team had a blast with it.
Focused on Solutions
This manager really separates herself from other bosses I know by focusing on solutions. Rather than “drilling into” negatives to find out what is going wrong, she seeks answers. Rather than giving direction to the team, she asks engaging questions to guide them towards the answers on their own.
Her favorite solution based technique is asking the “miracle question.” “If a miracle happened, and this problem was 100% fixed in three months, what would be the first thing you would notice was different?” she asks. This creates the first step in a new action plan; an action plan that no do-as-I-say manager would ever get an associate to execute.
Who is the best boss I know? She’s my wife, Kelly. Who does she manage? Her team members are clinically troubled (to put it lightly) six to twelve-year olds. The results they strive for are happiness, productivity, and staying out of trouble.
Her strength as a manager comes from something deeper than technique or knowledge or even principle. Her values and ultimately her character make her a great leader. How can we strengthen our character? I think a good starting place is trying to understand what our values are and acting in a way that honors our value system. This is how I think a manager develops character over time, and how we can all be a little more like Kelly.