Have you heard of Kim Scott (@kimballscott)? She's has built her career around a simple goal: Creating bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together. With a history as a start up CEO, a director at Google and a faculty member of Apple University, she's been around the block a time or two.
Heres the beginning of an article she wrote with First Round:
In honor of International Women’s Day yesterday, I want to explore why gender issues make it harder for both men and women to be candid at work, and to suggest some ideas for addressing the problem. Here’s the short version:
Gender politics and fear of tears push men away from being as radically candid with women as they are with other men. This is bad for men, women and the truth. Gender bias pushes women away from being radically candid in a way that is also bad for men, women and the truth.
BAD BOSSES MAKE PEOPLE MISERABLE.
THEY ALSO KILL INNOVATION, STIFLE GROWTH, INCREASE COSTS, AND CREATE INSTABILITY. WELL-MEANING PEOPLE BECOME BAD BOSSES WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT.
Great bosses have relationships with each of their employees. This relationship is a source of growth and stability for individuals and companies. Anywhere I’ve observed a great boss, I’ve seen the same three principles for approaching this relationship play out. I’ll describe these principles mostly by telling stories, some successes, but also plenty of mistakes—mostly mine. Some are funny, some are painful, and many are plain embarrassing, but they’re all instructive.
Even if your company is nothing like the places I’m describing (Google, Apple, Twitter) and your own boss is a control freak or petty tyrant or simply useless, you can still adopt these three basic principles and become a great boss yourself. I’ll explain how, and why you’ll be happy you did.
I. Say what you think.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it is so difficult and rare I call it “radical candor” when it happens. Steve Jobs explained it like this: “You need to [criticize] in a way that does not call into question your confidence in [an employee’s] abilities but leaves not too much room for interpretation… and that’s a hard thing to do.” Criticizing employees can feel brutal, and praising them can feel patronizing. But guidance—praise and criticism—is the single most important thing a boss is responsible for. Giving guidance is just the beginning. Great bosses must also get it (especially criticism) from employees, and encourage it between them.
II. Telling people what to do doesn’t work.
This also seems obvious. Yet, too many people think a boss’s job is to tell people what to do. It’s not. To do great work, employees must feel free. There’s nothing more destructive to great work than authoritarianism. Great bosses help a team move in a unified direction not by telling them what to do, but by guiding them through a process that involves a lot of listening, arguing, cajoling, and then letting go of ego to learn from the outcomes of those decisions. This process is exhausting for everybody, and so there’s pressure on the boss to short circuit it and tell people what to do. Resisting that pressure and forcing themselves and their teams through the process, called “the thrash” at Apple and “getting mugged by pigeons” at Google, is key to getting the best work from employees. Great bosses are editors, not authors.
III. Give a Damn
GREAT BOSSES HELP THEIR EMPLOYEES TAKE A STEP IN THE DIRECTION OF THEIR DREAMS. THEY MAKE A REAL EFFORT TO HELP EMPLOYEES ACHIEVE NOT JUST PROFESSIONAL BUT PERSONAL GROWTH. EQUALLY IMPORTANT, THEY RECOGNIZE AND VALUE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EXCELLENT AT THEIR JOBS BUT ARE NOT GUNNING FOR THE NEXT PROMOTION. THESE PEOPLE ARE THE SOURCE OF STABILITY ON ANY TEAM. GREAT BOSSES INTEGRATE GROWTH AND STABILITY, PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH. GREAT BOSSES GIVE A DAMN.