Being a boss is never easy.
When faced with a tough situation, do you think, "How should I handle this matter? What should I say? What should I not say?"
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Five industry veterans share with us how they've led and motivate a team.
"I believe that motivation inspires the best out of people. It can rouse a person to go above and beyond the call of duty, and when the going gets tough, to stay the course and persevere to the end.
One should never say or do anything to curb that intrinsic motivation. When unexpected adverse events happen or unintended mistakes are made, words that are used in the debrief and actions that are taken in the review should always be objective, unemotional and supportive. And similarly, when the subordinate has exceeded expectations, words of encouragement when dosed adequately will embolden further similar action."
—Loh May-Han, consultant anaesthetist at National University Hospital and assistant professor at National University of Singapore
The rule of five
"I'd recommend against saying these five phrases:
1. "Do this my way"
Being rigid destroys any form of creativity in a team. Leaders bring out the best in members of their team by giving them the authority to come up with new (and sometimes, better) ideas on their own. A a sure-win for everyone!
2. "I did this and that"
A leader attributes success to his team. In our highly complex and interrelated society, nothing can be accomplished without team work, collaboration and support from others.
3. "Hurry up!"
Hurried work invariably lacks the benefit of a well thought-out plan. A rushed job should never be encouraged and a good leader always gives reasonable time for team members to accomplish a task. This will also reduce the incidence of errors.
4. "Don't be stupid / You're stupid"
A leader never says this. It demoralises team spirit and will never be conducive to cultivating an encouraging and positive office environment.
5. "That's your problem"
A team's problem is the leader's problem, so bosses should never say something isn't their own problem. A good manager rallies his team in crisis and helps resolve the problem with them, together."
—Adrian Peh, co-founder and managing partner at Yeo-Leong & Peh
Be understanding and encouraging
"Things a good leader never says:
1. The team's performance matters more than their health and well-being.
2. Ethics is secondary if an undertaking is legal.
3. He/she values results over relationships.
4. He/she only wants to hear good news and solutions, never bad news, mistakes or complaints.
5. Past leaders are the reason for the failure of the team.
6. The team is questioning his/her ability or authority as a leader.
7. The credit for the team's success should go to him/her.
8. The team makes him/her look bad, when the end result wasn't up to expectation.
9. Something is correct because it has always been done that way.
10. Mistakes and problems are not tolerated."
—Ho Ching Lin, head of Glaucoma Service and a senior consultant at the Singapore National Eye Centre
""It's always been done this way" is what I would never say to my team. Every person that works with us contributes to how successful we are and can become. We are a lean team, and being efficient and able to solve problems are responsibilities everyone has to take on.
Regardless of their designation or role in the company—from design to retail operations to front-of-line service—it’s important that everyone is encouraged to think of new ways to solve a problem. This is so crucial for the progress of fashion and challenging the current retail climate. We can’t just stick to the techniques that have worked before. Besides, we can only be as good or innovative as the company we keep."
Praise and support
"As a leader, I set a direction and goals for my team, but listen and welcome suggestions and input from them as well. Women are known to have a more collaborative working style and I definitely take advantage of this asset.
I also work to praise team members in public where deserved, and give constructive feedback in private, which can be done with gentleness and love. It's important to give recognition and thanks when due."