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Best bosses open doors for workers

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Saturday, May 11, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

What makes a good boss?

The question was posed on Twitter recently, and here are some responses:

• “A good boss treats employees with respect, works as hard as everyone else, solves problems quickly and fairly,” Pop Culture Nerd says.

• “A good boss listens!” Matt Eventoff tweets.

• A good boss “mentors her (or his) employees” while providing ongoing opportunities for professional development, Jeana Harrington says.

Those seem like reasonable requests, but too many bosses fall short. They get caught up in complicated leadership theories or make trite declarations without any intent behind them.

Bill Treasurer, author of “Leaders Open Doors,” says he learned a key leadership insight when his son was 5.

Treasurer's son, tapped to be class leader one day at his preschool, noted that his job meant he “opened doors for people,” Treasurer says.

“That really said it all right there,” he says. “It was so simple. But that's what real leaders do. They open doors for people.”

A Hogan Assessment Systems study found that the worst quality in a boss is arrogance, while great bosses are trustworthy. Bad bosses also are seen as manipulative, micromanaging, passive-aggressive and distrustful of others.

Bosses who focus on providing opportunities for others are the most memorable, Treasurer says.

“Think about the people you admire, the people who have affected you most. Those are the people who give you a shot, who give you a chance to prove yourself,” he says.

“You do need to mentor other people, but you've got to be strategic and think deeply about what you do, and having an open door lets people distract you all the time,” Treasurer says. “The people who talk about an open-door policy are often immature leaders because they're not focused.”

Treasurer says leaders need to spend more time getting to know their workers better so they can understand a worker's motivations and career goals.

Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them,” Write her in care of USA TODAY/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22108.

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