The best boss I've ever worked for did what any good leader with a high degree of emotional intelligence (EQ) does: He invested in my development. In short, he set me up for success so I could perform at a high level and serve my clients well.
Simon Sinek, author of multiple best-sellers, including Leaders Eat Last, knows about the positive psychology behind leaders who serve their employees. He once said:
"There's not a CEO on the planet who is responsible for the customer. You're responsible for the people who are responsible for the customer."
And that describes Bruce (my former boss) to a tee. He knew that to serve our clients well, he had to serve me well first.
Here are seven traits that will make any boss shine and stand head-and-shoulders above the rest.
1. They show their best human traits.
Emotionally-intelligent leaders are real human beings -- they make room daily for laughter and joy, and aren't afraid of expressing frustration, uncertainty or sadness. They will open up and say "This project is kicking my butt. I need your input: What would you do in this situation?" Being that open with your emotions may be perceived as a weakness, but the reality is it's actually a strength that builds trust and community.
2. They listen before talking.
Smart leaders exhibiting EQ are able to park their thoughts, clear the agenda in their heads, and connect to others by listening first -- listening to their needs, joys, frustrations, ideas, interests, and deepest wishes and dreams.
3. They're bent on making employees successful.
They'll demand excellence from their people and hold them accountable for performance and results, but they also have a deep respect for removing obstacles from their path and developing them to succeed.
4. They motivate through praise.
According to research, the best firms on the planet use recognition as a powerful means to get their employees' commitment. A powerful motivator, research suggests leaders praise their most valued employees once per week.
5. They are resilient.
We all face challenges and unexpected events in our lives. The key is how well we are able to cope with life's surprises. In resilient leaders, they adjust to changes and challenges and "spring back" after dealing with a stressful period. Research on resilience suggests that leaders bounce back by having a positive outlook, changing their perception, and having a healthy lifestyle.
6. They know they're allowed to make mistakes.
They accept that they're not perfect and that they make mistakes (and will admit to making them, learn from them, and try again a different way). When leaders model this type of authenticity, employees feel safe enough to take risks, make their own mistakes, and be open enough to say, "Hey, boss, I messed up."
7. They seek perspective from several angles.
When difficult situations arise, smart bosses talk to several people cross-functionally, up and even down reporting levels, to get clarity, and determine a course of action. Sometimes the decision they make may not be popular, but it's always the right one because they sought many views and opinions from sound minds.