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Surprise! To be a super boss, you only need to be good at 4 things

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You’d think that the greatest leaders of all time were good at almost everything. But research suggests that’s not so.

More likely, they were extremely good at just about four things. And those made each a super boss.

And managers who embrace those behaviors can be as effective as Meta’s Sheryl Sandberg, former GE CEO Jack Welch and Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs.

What a super boss embraces

Even better, the study from leadership experts at McKinsey found that a small subset of leadership skills correlates with front-line leadership success, not just the those who reach the top of the C-Suite.

In fact, these four behaviors – consistently practiced and encouraged within an organization – accounted for 89% of a manager’s effectiveness.

We should note: The top leaders weren’t just good with these skills. They were great. They used and honed these skills throughout their careers. So, for any leader, it’s a long-term commitment to be a super boss.

Here’s what to focus on:

1. Be selectively supportive

Nearly all managers believe they support their employees through training, recognition and rewards. But there’s a lot more to the right kind and amount of support, researchers found.

Effective leaders understand and sense how other people feel. They’re authentic and sincere with their interest in those around them and that helps build a strong sense of trust.

That creates an “I have your back” kind of environment where everyone is confident challenges will be faced head-on with equal parts of fierceness and integrity.

Common practices: Effective leaders intervene in group work only to promote efficiency without undermining creativity and dynamics. They also help employees maintain group harmony and a productive energy by sharing a realistic business outlook that includes the good and bad. With that kind of transparency, they also share ideas on how they can overcome those issues.

2. Get different perspectives

This may be one of the most undetected traits of effective leaders. We can actually see managers work with people or share information. But it’s harder to actually see them absorb (read, listen to, comtemplate, evaluate, etc.) valuable information.

Leaders who gather many different perspectives base good decisions on a solid analysis of it all. They avoid making bad decisions based on biases.

Common practices: Get insight from:

  • ideas solicited from employees that can help the company improve
  • trends affecting your industry
  • changes in the environment, business conditions and demands, and
  • the practice of differentiating between important and unimportant details.

3. Solve problems effectively

Almost any manager can solve a problem for the short term. The best super bosses solve issues and never see them again. In fact, researchers found that this is the behavior that’s possibly the most difficult to get right.

Many great leaders might make it look like they solved issues on intuition. But they’ve gathered and analyzed data and considered consequences before they decide on an issue – whether it’s something major — such as an acquisition — or minor — such as a team dispute.

Common practices: They use past knowledge to gather the right people, resources and data. Then they look for and invite new insight to make the right decision for the current circumstances.

4. Operate focused on results

The top leaders follow through. They aren’t just consistent at developing, communicating and deciding on good ideas. They follow through on them until they achieve results by prioritizing the highest-value work and goals.

They also lift up those who’ve helped them make the right decisions, recognizing and rewarding people and efforts.

Common practices: Regularly evaluate top goals and the tasks that must be done to achieve them. Delegate responsibilities and make people accountable for reporting on progress.

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