Business books are riddled with language that implies control. We’re told to “get” people to do a good job, or, in a gentler vein, “motivate” them to do so. But the fact is that finding out what works and what doesn’t as a boss, is more like fishing than it is like following a recipe.
Fishing for flounder is great sport on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where I spent some vacation. The people who fish discuss which lures to use or whether to use live bait. They compare notes on the best places and times to fish. You can learn a lot from them.
But advice and the experience of others only give you a starting point. You have to figure out what works for you. You do that by fishing.
You learn how to be a good and then a great boss the same way. Soak up the advice and experience of others. Identify role models. And then try things.
Every boss and every team member and every situation is different. You have to learn what works for you and use that learning as a starting point. Then you adapt and try new things and get better.
Boss’s Bottom Line
Great bosses didn’t become great all at once or by learning some magic secret. They tried things. They learned what worked for them. They adapted. They learned some more. It takes time and it takes effort.