Women Run The World, But Our Tips Can Help You Become The Best Boss Babe Possible

Who run the world? According to Queen Bey, girls do, and we must say, we agree wholeheartedly. While we still have a long way to go in terms of achieving true gender equality, significant strides have been made in recent years — U.S. News and World Report reports that in 2021, women held 31.7% of top executive positions, significantly up from 2015's statistic of 27.1%. Still not true equality, but hey, we're getting there!

Getting into leadership positions is only half the battle, though. You'll obviously also want to be a good leader! If you've ever had an unlikable boss, you know how the qualities of a leader can seriously affect everything about a company, from employee satisfaction to overall company success. If you're already in an executive position, you likely have all the skills needed to do your job well, but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement.

There are several qualities that make a good leader that probably aren't written in your job description. That doesn't make them any less important to your or your company's success, though. For example, you'll want to be understanding of any mental health issues your employees may be dealing with, and it's important to solve problems with a level head. Let's talk about all the ways you can be the best possible leader for your company and your employees; we wouldn't be surprised if you see your overall job satisfaction go up after implementing these tips, too!

Put yourself in your employees' shoes

First things first, boss — if you haven't already, you have to learn to put yourself in your employees' shoes and see things from their point of view. If you've ever had a difficult boss, this was probably one of your frustrations with them. Your job may be busy and demanding, but at the end of the day, you'll get nowhere with your company if you don't understand the day-to-day demands of your employees.

This is a common frustration especially when it comes to jobs with a large gap between upper-level management and boots-on-the-ground employees, like in service industry positions. If a manager or owner doesn't understand the daily struggles, complaints, and frustrations of their employees, they'll probably end up with dissatisfied workers and high turnover. To combat this and increase employee retention rate, ADP recommends spending time with your employees while they work to see what they deal with daily. It's also a good idea to ask your employees for input on changes that could be made to make their jobs easier. If it's a simple change that won't affect anything else in the company, why not make it? You'll probably see employee satisfaction increase as a result, and employee retention will go up, a huge win no matter what industry you're leading.

Listen before speaking

In nearly every situation, you'll want to listen to your employees before speaking. This applies whether you're introducing a new company policy, updating employees on what is and isn't working, or bringing someone in to talk about corrective action after an incident. When you listen to your employees before you speak, you'll probably find yourself empathizing more with them and being able to understand their viewpoints better. They could also alter plans you have for your company's future, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if your employees give you insight you didn't have before. 

You'll probably also learn more about your employees as people when you listen to them. For example, say an employee approaches you about wanting to work from home. Your automatic "Sorry, company policy states ..." response might change once you learn that their health has taken a turn for the worse, or that they're newly pregnant. Taking the time to hear your employees out will not only make you a better leader, but will also probably make your employees respect you more, which goes a long way when it comes to overall company success.

Be decisive

We get it, decision-making is hard, especially if you're in a leadership position. It's likely that a lot of your company's success rides on the decisions you make, big and small. This can make decision-making daunting at best, and downright terrifying at worst, and could leave you wanting to avoid the process altogether. At the very least, you probably like to put a lot of time and thought into making important company-wide decisions, which is all fine and well — as long as a decision is made.

Waiting a while to make decisions, or just refusing to make them at all, can lead to stagnancy in your company and frustration among the employees in your organization. We get it, it's likely that sometimes your decisions will make someone unhappy — it still has to be made. Fortunately, you don't have to be born with a special decision-making gene. Decision-making is a skill that you can develop over time, and it's invaluable in making you a good leader. To start, it's always good to gather information about the problem at hand and to think through your options carefully, but don't get stuck there. You can ask your employees for input when appropriate or gather input from other involved parties as well. Move through this process as quickly as makes sense for the problem so you can make efficient decisions that will be of maximum benefit to your organization and employees.

Show compassion

At the end of the day, everyone in your organization is going to go through a tough time at some point. Don't be robotic when it happens, even if their rough patch is inconvenient for you — in the long run, your employees and colleagues will appreciate you making accommodations for them when they need it. 

Compassion may come easily when you know that someone's going through something rough in their personal lives, but you won't always be privy to that knowledge. Sometimes the only clue you'll have that someone needs compassion is a small behavioral issue, or noticing that an employee has fallen behind on work, or maybe someone has uncharacteristically missed a shift or two. Before you jump in with corrective action in these instances, be willing to do a little check-in with your employee. Say you've been noticing them acting uncharacteristically and that you want to make sure everything is okay. You don't need details, but doing a check-in like this will let your employees know that you care, and you'll likely receive clarity on whatever issue you're dealing with as well.

Don't make self-serving decisions

While you do definitely want to be decisive in your leadership position, you should never make a decision that will work solely to your own personal benefit. No matter how hard you try to hide it, your employees will likely be able to tell when a major company decision has been made for personal gain — and it'll probably cause you to lose a lot of their respect in the long run. 

A super easy way to combat this is to involve your employees in the decision-making process, and to actually listen to and seriously consider their input. Forbes has some good ideas on how to do this; for example, you could set up a suggestion box where employees can leave input, or you could send surveys out to gather information on their opinions. When it comes to smaller decisions that don't have a large, company-wide impact, why not let the employees make decisions themselves? Maybe you're trying to decide how to set up a new menu board for your coffee shop. Letting your team of employees make that decision will not only empower them and give them a feeling of involvement and investment in the company, but it'll also free you up to focus on more important company matters.

Keep a level head

Dear leader, if you can't approach a problem with a level head, nobody will. Your employees follow your lead on more things than you think, including how you handle conflict and other tough situations, so keeping your cool as the workplace heat starts rising is crucial to maintaining a well-functioning workplace. When dealing with conflict between two employees, don't take sides and approach the problem as objectively and calmly as possible. 

Of course, there will be times when keeping a level head during conflict is harder than it sounds. When those times arise, Inc. has a valuable piece of advice: "Make it timely, but not real-time." What do they mean by this? In an intense conflict, especially one where our emotions are heightened, it could be incredibly counterproductive to try to solve the problem in the moment. You're more likely to end up saying things you'll later regret after you've cooled down a bit. Don't wait forever to tackle the issue at hand, but give yourself (and the other parties involved) some breathing room before addressing it. You'll probably find the problem easier to approach with a cool head and some more perspective on the issue.

Show passion for your work

Honestly, few things are more frustrating than working for an obviously disinterested boss. Your employees can tell when you're not into it and, unless they're really stellar people who are very personally invested in their work, it's likely that your lack of passion will give way to their lacking passion, as well, which will inevitably lead to a heartless company at best, and company downfall at worst. Lack of passion is simply a recipe for disaster, and it's one you'll want to remedy ASAP if you think it may apply to you.

If you're not passionate about your job, take a step back and ask what drew you to it in the first place and why you're still there. If you don't have great answers to either of these, it may be a wake-up call that this isn't the right career for you. On the other hand, maybe you know exactly what drew you to your position, but you've lost some of that interest as time has passed. Ask yourself if that initial passion is something you can rekindle. If you do want to remain in your organization and become more passionate about your role, Fast Company has some tips. Among other things, they recommend keeping optimism about your company's future at the forefront of your mind, as well as engaging with your coworkers and employees, and being unafraid to drive change. 

Be open to new ideas

News flash, friend — you're not always the smartest person in the room. In fact, we bet your employees have a wealth of knowledge and ideas that you don't. Not using that knowledge is a huge missed opportunity for your company. After all, you never know who will come up with the next million-dollar idea, and you don't want to miss it when it arises. It's always a good idea to be open to new ideas your employees may have and to provide outlets for their ideas — for example, you could have a suggestion box or monthly team meetings where anything can be brought to the table. 

New ideas don't only come from other people, either. You might be surprised at all the new ideas you could come up with as you do independent research and learning in whatever field you're involved with. For example, if you're a school principal, it's a good idea to make sure you're on the lookout for any information about how to run a school well. Network with other principals and find out what has or hasn't worked for them, and read publications on educational practices. Constantly keeping streams of information open will likely lead you to come up with some new (possibly even groundbreaking) ideas on your own.

Enable your employees

At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel like a valuable part of whatever organization they're working in. We spend most of our lives today at work — we don't do it just for the paycheck. Passion and interest are important and necessary aspects of enjoying your job, but feeling like you have agency in your position can be a real game changer when it comes to increasing employee satisfaction.

Did an employee recently come to you with an idea for a new way to format your email newsletter? Don't dismiss it just because your current model works well — enable your employee in the ideation process. Ask them to create some mock-ups to show you so you can talk through their ideas and make the decision together. Maybe you have an employee who's recently started working on a passion project outside of work. Encourage them in it! Don't brush it aside out of fear it'll take time away from their work — ask them about it, show interest, and encourage them to do it well. You'll likely see their satisfaction rise as a result, and you'll probably notice they become more invested in their work with you as well.

Be consistent with expectations

Consistency and clarity are the names of the game when it comes to outlining the expectations you have from your employees. Being exceedingly consistent and clear in what you expect (and do not expect) from them will take pressure off of both of you in the long run — they'll know what kind of behavior and actions are and are not acceptable, and you won't have to worry about whether you've made your expectations clear. 

Of course, it's not enough just to make the rules — it's important to follow through consistently, as well. You can't let an infraction slide with one employee and take corrective action when another employee does the same (as always, use your best judgment if extenuating circumstances apply). If you don't follow through when inappropriate actions are made, your employees may take that as a sign that you'll let anything slide; soon, you could see minor infractions happening left and right. On the other hand, being rigid and severe anytime someone steps a toe out of line will lead to fear among your employees. Compassion and understanding should be at the forefront anytime you have to take corrective action, and it's important that you follow through, as well. This is a balance that will take practice to get right, and you won't have it right 100% of the time — that's okay! Be willing to give yourself and your employees grace as you navigate this process.

Show appreciation for your employees

Give your employees at least as much positive feedback as you give them ways to improve; after all, if they weren't doing anything right, they probably wouldn't still be working there! It's obvious when you need to address problems that need to be solved, but can be less intuitive for some to give feedback about what's going right. The latter, however, is incredibly important in maintaining a good working relationship with your employees and making sure they stick around for the long run.

Showing your employees you appreciate them goes a very long way in helping them be satisfied with their jobs. There are tons of ways you can show your employees you appreciate them, from the classic "Employee of the Month" designations to having pizza parties when they do well, and offering raises or bonuses. Celebrate their achievements, big and small, work-related and not work-related. Make sure your employees feel seen and heard, especially when they've contributed something valuable to your company — it will mean the world to them to know their accomplishments haven't gone unnoticed. 

Remember that your employees are only human

Your employees are only human, and their capacity is only so large. They probably can't take on new parent life, a new project, the new client you want to give them, and the responsibility of planning the holiday party all at once. At times, their regular responsibilities may even be a bit too much (though this shouldn't be super regular). Being aware of the capacity of each of your employees won't only keep them satisfied at work, but it'll also help increase company productivity.

In other words, don't put too much on one person's plate! Everyone's capacity is different, so asking before you hand off a project or client to an employee is a good practice to get into. Regularly check in with your employees to make sure nobody has too much to handle, and if they do, find a way to offload or delay some of their work burdens. As you check in with everyone, chances are you'll find that someone is dealing with too much, while another person can take on some more — redistribute the tasks accordingly. The last thing you want is burnt-out employees!

And you're only human, too

Finally, you're only human, too. It's easy in leadership positions to have a sort of I-can-do-anything mentality, or even an I-should-do-everything mentality. Especially if you're a go-getter, a problem solver, or a chronic overachiever, you may be more likely to extend yourself beyond what you can handle. When this happens, at best you'll be burnt out for a bit; at worst, though, you could end up letting a lot of people down and even harming your company's future.

Be incredibly realistic in the expectations you set yourself. Always leave room for situations to arise, as they always do, especially in executive positions. You don't need to be involved in all the minute deals of everything that goes on at your company — if you have a good team of employees, they should be more than capable of handling the day-to-day matters on their own. Don't make promises you aren't positive you'll be able to fulfill, and don't bend over backward trying to make something happen 24/7. If you aren't happy and healthy, your team will be able to tell, and your organization could suffer as a result. Temper busy seasons with light seasons, learn to ask for help if you need it, and be exceedingly gracious with yourself and your employees, and you'll do just fine.