Think about a boss you truly respected. Think about a leader you truly admired. Think about a leader you not only loved to work for, but with.
What sets that person apart from every other boss?
Simple. They gave: generously, selflessly, and without expectation of return. They gave because their happiness–and their success–came from someone else’s happiness and someone else’s success. Yours.
And you can do that too.
1. Give the gift of patience.
We’re willing to give our all for some people. Why? They care about us, they believe in us, and we don’t want to let them down.
Showing patience is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly care about them. Showing patience and expressing genuine confidence is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly believe in them.
Showing patience is a genuine gift–because, ultimately, showing patience shows how much you care.
2.Give the gift of praise.
Everyone, even relatively poor performers, does something well. That’s why everyone deserves praise and appreciation.
It’s easy for most of us to recognize great employees; after all, they do great things. (Of course it’s very possible that consistent praise is one of the reasons they’ve become great.) It’s much harder to find reasons to praise a person who simply meets standards.
But that’s why it’s so important to try. A few words of recognition–especially when that recognition is given publicly–could be just the nudge that inspires an average performer to become a great performer.
Try hard to see the good in people before they see it in themselves. You might just provide a spark that helps them reach their true potential.
3. Give the gift of forgetting.
When an employee makes a mistake–especially a major mistake–it’s easy to forever view that employee through the perspective of that mistake. (I’ve definitely done that.)
But one mistake, or one weakness, is just one part of the whole person.
Want to be a great boss? Step back, set aside the mistake, and think about the whole employee. Viewing any employee through the lens of just one incident may forever impact how you treat that employee.
To forgive may be divine… but to forget can be even more divine.
4.Give the gift of asking for help.
When you ask for help–especially from someone who works for you–a few things happen. You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice. You show you respect that person’s experience, skill, and insight. And you show you trust that other person, since by asking for help you’ve made yourself vulnerable.
While it’s relatively easy to ask for help, it’s harder to ask for help when the assistance is personal.
I once went to a meeting to talk about layoffs. By the time I got back to the plant, word had already spread that cuts were coming. One of my employees said, “So, layoffs, huh?” I didn’t have to confirm it; he knew. I said, “I have no idea what to tell our employees. What would you say?”
He thought and said, “Just tell everyone you tried. Then talk about where we go from here.” Simple? Sure, but powerful too. He later told me how much it meant to him that I had asked for his opinion and taken his advice.
Ask for help, in part because you realize the person who provides you with that help will automatically feel greater self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth, because they’ve received one of the greatest gifts of all: knowing they made a difference in another person’s life.
5.Give the gift of privacy.
Everyone shares. Everyone Likes and tweets. Lives have increasingly become open books. Gradually, we’ve started to feel we have a right to know more about others than we ever did.
Most of the time, we don’t have a right to know. And we definitely don’t need to know. Often the best gift we can give is the gift of privacy, of not asking, not prying–yet always being available if and when another person does want or need to share.
Respect another person’s privacy and help them guard their privacy. It’s not necessary to know in order to care.
6. Give the gift of opportunity.
Every job has the potential to lead to greater things. Every person has the potential, both professionally and personally, to accomplish greater things.
Take the time to develop employees for the job they someday hope to land, even if that job is with another company. Take the time to help your employees find and seize opportunities.
Help people work towards their dreams–and help open doors that might otherwise have remained closed to them.
7. Give the gift of sincerity.
Lip service is easy to pay. Professionalism is easy to display. Much more rare are the people who can stay highly professional…yet also be openly human. They’re willing to show sincere excitement when things go well. They’re willing to show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They’re willing to show sincere disappointment–not in others, though, but in themselves.
They openly celebrate. They openly empathize. They openly worry.
In short, they’re openly human. Temper your sense of professionalism with a healthy dose of humanity–and more importantly, let your employees do the same.
8. Give the gift of freedom.
Just about every task has a best practice, so most leaders implement and enforce processes and procedures.
For employees, though, engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care the most when it’s “mine.” I care the most when I feel I have the responsibility and authority not just to do what I’m told, but to do what is right.
Create standards and guidelines, but then give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best within those guidelines. Allow your employees to turn “have to” into “want to,” because that transforms a job into something much more meaningful: an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.
9.Give the gift of tough love.
I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We all want to be better than we are. Yet we all fall into habits, fall into patterns, develop blind spots…and so we all need constructive feedback. We all need advice, guidance, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants.
It’s relatively easy to provide feedback during evaluations. It’s relatively easy to make one-off comments. It’s a lot tougher to say, “I know you’re capable of a lot more.”
Think about a time when someone told you what you least wanted to hear–and yet most needed to hear. You’ve never forgotten what they said. It changed your life.
Go change another person’s life.
10. Give the gift of respect.
Some employees are far from outstanding. Maybe they aren’t as smart. Or maybe they don’t work as hard. Or maybe they make bigger mistakes. Ultimately, some employees deserve to be let go.
Still, regardless of their level of performance, every employee deserves to be treated with respect. Sarcasm, eye rolling, and biting comments all chip away at a person’s self-respect.
An incredibly powerful gift is allowing others to maintain a sense of dignity in the worst of circumstances.
After all, you may have to fire an employee, but you never, ever have to demean or humiliate that employee.
11.Give the gift of purpose.
Fulfillment is often found in becoming a part of something bigger. We all love to feel that special sense of teamwork and togetherness that turns a task into a quest and a group of individuals into a real team.
Anyone can write mission statements. It’s a lot harder to create a mission that makes a real impact. It’s a lot harder to show other people how what they do affects their customers, their business, their community…and themselves.
Give your employees a sense of purpose. Help them care by helping them understand why they should care.
We all search for a sense of meaning. Help your employees find that meaning and they’ll go home every day feeling a greater sense of fulfillment.
That’s one of the best gifts any leader can give.