x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Career coach teaches executives to 'boss shop'

When opportunities are plentiful, employees look for leaders who will give them opportunities to shine.

A boss's reputation can be as vital to attracting good workers as a generous salary package, and it's not necessarily the "nice guys" who draw the talent.

In a tight job market, people are happy to have a job. But when opportunities are plentiful and there's a war for talent, employees look for a leader they know will give them an opportunity to shine.

Liz Wiseman, an executive coach and leadership expert, encourages clients to "boss shop" to find the workplace where they will be happiest and the most productive.

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"We accept the idea of bosses checking references for potential employees, but I'm constantly suggesting to people before they take a job to check their bosses' references, talk to people who have worked for him or her and find out what that experience was like," says Ms Wiseman, the author of the recently released leadership manual, Multipliers: How the Best leaders Make Everyone Smarter.

The book explores why some leaders, who it refers to as "diminishers", drain capability and intelligence from their teams, while others, known as "multipliers", amplify it to produce a more productive and satisfied workplace.

"If I was shopping for a boss, I would be looking at other employees in the prospective organisation who had worked with this leader before and made a decision to go and work for them again.

"I would really encourage prospective employees to look at whether the people around this potential boss were doing the very best work of their career."

Research data shows people stay in jobs for their boss, she says.

In fact, people will endure a number of inadequacies in the company and the larger work environment if they have a good relationship with their boss.

And this has nothing to do with how warm and fuzzy the relationship is.

"One of the things we found when researching Multipliers is that many of the most respected leaders we studied were hard-edged. They weren't the kind of bosses that you went out with after work for drinks and they weren't even necessarily the kind who came up to you and said, 'Hey, we really appreciate what you're doing'.

"They were the kind of leaders who asked you to do hard things, who invited you in to work on things you didn't know how to do."

Great leadership role models include Apple's chief operating officer and interim chief executive, Tim Cook, who has a reputation for being a challenger.

Another, John Chambers, the chief executive of Cisco Systems, is a leader who believes in sharing accountability and authority and who grew the company from a US$1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) technology firm into a $40bn global conglomerate.

And then there are Thomas and Andreas Strungmann, twin brothers who insisted on using the best local talent when setting set up their small generic drug business, Haxel, outside Munich in 1985 and sold it 20 years later to Novaris for $8.3bn.

"No matter how good the company, if you have an exhausting boss, employees aren't happy," Ms Wiseman says.

"Research into employee satisfaction surveys, across all enterprises, industries and geographies, show that the number one determinant for why people stay or leave an employer is their direct relationship with their boss."

pf@thenational.ae