Thursday 27 May 2021

Best Boss/Worst Boss

I have had a few occasions recently to introduce Leadership Teams to the idea of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, and in particular, the importance of it. 

For this I have been using Genos' 'Best boss/Worst boss exercise.  It is very simple, and very powerful.  I invite people to think about the best boss they have ever had, and then ask them to rate her or him against six observable behaviours each relating to different domains of emotional intelligence. The rating scale is very simple: from 1 - 5, where 1 is 'much less frequently demonstrated than by others' and 5 is  'much more frequently demonstrated than by others.'  When I have asked all six questions, I ask them to total the scores, to arrive at an overall score (between 6 and 30) for their best boss.

I then ask them to write down three words that occur to them, when they consider how that boss made them feel; and finally, the degree to which that boss motivated them to contribute with discretionary effort in their job: to go the extra mile.

Then I repeat the questions, inviting them, this time, to think about their worst ever boss. Then I collect their results, using menti, so that they can see them come up on screen as we go through them: their own and their colleagues' responses. 

Not surprisingly, the results are starkly different for best and worst bosses; and for each question, quite closely clustered amongst all participants. The screenshots with this post are from a recent workshop on this.

There are four points I make that I find really help them to get the importance of this. The first is that how they show up, in terms of the behaviours they demonstrate, has a huge impact on other people. The second is the difference between the feeling words, and the probable impact of that on wellbeing, health and retention.  

The third is the difference in terms of discretionary effort: the bosses demonstrating emotionally intelligent behaviours are getting far more work out of people.  And for the fourth, I am indebted to Jane, my ever-insightful wife. I dry-ran this with Jane and some of my adult children (in part to test the technology - switching between Keynote and then a shared Menti screen is quite challenging for an old gadgee like me...). 

Jane then said: 'Of course the results are different: you asked us to think of our best ever and worst ever bosses.  So what does that prove?' 

Which prompted me to reflect on what it did prove.  And what it proves is that I knew precisely the six questions to ask that would demonstrate, via the scoring, the differences between the behaviours of best bosses and worst bosses: and I knew what those questions would be because of the research on Emotionally Intelligent behaviours. 

So we can say with some confidence that bosses who exhibit a certain range of behaviours more frequently than average will get significantly better results, in terms of staff engagement, wellbeing and voluntary effort, than bosses who demonstrate those behaviours less frequently than the average boss.  And because we are talking about behaviours, these are all things that bosses can learn to do, be observed to do, and be recognised and rewarded for doing.  And that is the fourth and final point I make that really has impact with the leaders with whom I have done this. 

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