How To Be A Good Boss: Tips To Groom Your Organization’s Next-Gen Leaders



Elaine M. Nowak

Director of Product Management and Marketing,


[0:00] Elaine Nowak:

So today we’re talking about how to be a good boss, tips to grow your organization’s next-gen leaders. And a lot of what I’m going to say is probably going to be common sense. But what I’m looking to do and offer you today is this opportunity to reflect on yourself as a leader, and to take a moment and think, am I doing these things? Am I doing what is best for me to be a leader and to create future leaders from my team? So first, let’s start with and I’m going to make this interactive. So I’m going to need your participation. What do you think are the characteristics of a good boss versus a bad boss? So let’s start with a bad boss. Can you just shout it out? What’s something that’s a bad boss? characteristic? micromanaging? No trust? Unapproachable? Yes. Okay. And then let’s talk about what are the characteristics of a good boss, the exact opposite of everything we said. macro managing approachable, right? building that trust and advocate for you. That’s right to advocate for the team members very important parts of what we think. So what do you think your team members think of you as a boss? If you are the leader for your team? What do you think your team sees in you and the characteristics that you’re displaying as a leader for your team? So think about that for yourself. While you think about that, I want to play this little clip here. Is anyone familiar with “the office”?

[1:38] VIDEO:


Hello, Peter. What’s happening? Ah, we have sort of a problem here. Yeah, you apparently didn’t put one of the new coversheets on your TPS reports.


Oh, yeah, I’m sorry about that. I forgot.


Yeah. You see, we’re putting the cover sheets on all TPS reports now before they go out. Did you see the memo about this?


Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I have the memo right here. I just forgot, but it’s not shipping out till tomorrow. So there’s no problem.


Yeah. If you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that would be great. And I’ll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo. Okay.


Yeah, no, I got it.

[2:26] Elaine Nowak:

Okay, so, familiar scenario. Five signs. I think we named a few of them right here. Micromanagement. So the right on top of your team, making sure they’re doing their work but doing it in such a way that it’s not helpful for your team members, taking all the credit. So when there are accomplishments, achievements, and that you are having success, making sure that you are pointing that success to the people and the work and the effort that was done and put into that work. Superiority in terms of knowledge. I think it was Steve Jobs that said, you don’t hire people, you hire people smarter than yourself, people, with the knowledge that you lack. So you want to make sure you tap into the knowledge of your team members and not think that you know it all or have all the answers. I’m gonna talk a little bit more about some things we can do to help with knowledge and making sure you’re presenting information and receiving information and doing the best to build your teams up. They’re always right. So a bad boss is always right. It doesn’t matter what you say, doesn’t matter what you do. They have the last answer. They’re going to do it the way. Oh, yeah, they listen to you, but it’s always it’s, it’s just lip service, right? Because in the end, they’re the ones who think that they’re right. That’s a bad boss, and then terrible listeners. So we talked a bit about approachable. Having an approachable boss. I think that also ties into being a good kind of listener. So real horrible straight out.

[3:54] Elaine Nowak:

This is a boss who is bad and says to the employee, you’re fired.

[4:01] Elaine Nowak:

Oh, not really. But now that 2% bumping your pay wouldn’t seem so bad. That’s a bad gross. You don’t want to represent that. So, and here he is saying, Oh, this job, it’s all about managing expectations. So you’re fired up, hey, you’re not fired. But you’re 2%. Yeah, managing expectations. So, people who have never heard this, people don’t leave organizations, right? They leave a bad boss. So, if you and your career have experienced, and you know, you might have a fantastic organization, but if the person you are reporting to is a bad boss doing any of those characteristics, then, in fact, you’re not gonna be happy, you’re not going to stay there and be working on that team. So how do bosses impact the performance of their employees? And how can we explore that a little bit more? So the bad boss restricts the employees’ talent and restricts their growth. You don’t want to be that boss, whereas good bosses create the next generation leaders. So you want to be doing what you can for your teams so that they can replace you, as a leader, so they can replace you in the work that you do, and the job that you perform. So how did the bad bosses restrict employees and help, and prevent them from the growth that they deserve to have? You have something like this on paper, you might have the perfect team. But then, in reality, you’ve got to take into account personalities, you have to take it into account the way that people work, that the way they consume information, the way that they put information out there, so you have to look at the personal element in understanding and not just the skillset or the technology or the technical skills that the team members have. You want to make sure that when you are assigning tasks, you want to have tasks that comply with their strengths. It’s common sense but you would be surprised or maybe not how many times you will have a leader who will assign a task. If you don’t have good math skills, don’t put that person in charge of bookkeeping. It’s just going to set them up for failure.

So look for the strengths of your different employees, understand their strengths, and then put them in positions where their strengths are going to help build their knowledge and talent. You also want to take into account as a good leader, you want to appreciate hard work. So even if something is done, and maybe it’s not done to the exact specification you asked, or you presented the information in such a way, you still want to make sure that you’re not disregarding the work that went into whatever it was that was presented to you. You do want to take into consideration the effort, the energy, the fact that they did put something together so always keep it in a positive spin. When you’re understanding what the work that was done. You also want to take into account unique ideas. So what if somebody comes in and you give them a task, you give them something that they’re supposed to accomplish, do you allow your team members to do it the way they want to, to execute it in a way that they might have a unique idea about, and be open to that. So you want to understand, here’s my end game, then let your team members get there, and let them get there in a way that is to their strengths. And then maybe it’s a different way than you would have done it. But you can still achieve the results you’re looking for if it’s about your end goals. So good bosses create next-generation leaders. So again, you want to train, you want to get your employees to eventually replace you and what you’re doing.

[7:40] Elaine Nowak:

So we have a concept, at HighRadius, so it’s called, it’s one of our zing elements, it’s “let the best ideas win”. So when we talk about a concept, we ideate, we do crowdsourcing. So we put out here’s the problem I’m looking to solve. Can you give me some ideas on how I could solve that problem? Gimme a scenario, maybe even do a little research, provide links or other ideas. And then what we do is we get together, we go through all the ideas, everyone that submitted ideas will vote on those, and then narrow it down. And let the best idea when, in that scenario, you sometimes have people come up with some amazing ways, some innovative approaches to the work and the things that you want to get accomplished. Along the same lines, you want to encourage your employees to try out new opportunities. So you want to have a team that is innovating that is trying to do things differently, but you also want to give them opportunities to maybe move on another track. So let’s say their team member says, Well, you know, I liked project management. And there’s an opening in project management elsewhere. It’s okay to let that team member go. Pursue another area and foster that for their new opportunities. That’s how you also build skills and growth and talent, motivating your employees, relieving employees from stress. So this dude here doing a little bit of yoga, we do yoga in our office. And we provide those opportunities. I hope everyone had a chance to pet the dogs that were here, a little puppy therapy. So having outlets having someplace where you and your team members can de-stress, it’s about that work-life balance. It’s common sense. But you’d be surprised or maybe not how often it’s not put into practice. I think another area is addressing issues head-on as a good leader. You know, when something’s amiss, you can feel the tension, there might be tension between your team members, that tension should be addressed. Coming from a psychology background, this is one of the most important elements to having a cohesive team and a team that’s looking to grow and foster the talent you have.

So if you see something happening, then you need to address it and it can be addressed in different ways. Now, having said that, you can also create an environment in which you can get feedback anonymously. So you can have a submission. Maybe it’s an inbox, maybe not electronic, because that has a footprint. But it could be something where notes can be shared, or information can be exchanged, or someone can collect that information. But if you can get feedback for yourself too or feedback from other team members, and it’s provided in such a way that it’s anonymous, therefore, it doesn’t have to be finger-pointing, but it can still be addressed. So looking at how to prepare your next generation of leaders, what can you do to ensure that you have your employees stay, and remain with you and remain on your teams? The worst you can have is somebody coming up again. I talked about it almost like yes, if there are opportunities within your company, look for growth in that exploration. And, but you also want to ensure they stay with your company again, those bad bosses. People are leaving the bad boss, they’re not leaving the organization necessarily. It could be a bad organization, then they are leaving. So how do you tackle it when people want to leave your company? So going back to this fostering talent, fostering growth, understanding where your employees want to go, you want to make sure that when you have open communication, that’s when you can have true value exchange for your teams. And from a leader to team members. You also want to make sure that you’re handling the expectations of the next generation of employees.

So setting good expectations, understanding what your goals are at an organization and making sure that you’re relating those goals. What most people want to do in their work is to feel valued, that what they’re doing, and the work that they’re doing is, valuable, that it’s going to have some impact, that it’s going to help that company get to some goal or realize some objective because that’s where the company was going. But if those goals and those objectives are not passed down to the employee that’s opening the door, then you are not going to have the value for your team members. They’re not going to feel like what they do is contribute. And wasn’t it just one of the other conversations, where the other sessions in which they said that putting the man on the moon that the doorman at NASA or the coat check guy said when they had a big week come in and check his coat? And he said, Oh, you know, how are you doing, sir? And the answer was, you know, I’m helping to put a man on the moon because he worked at NASA. After all, that individual understood the objectives and the goal of that company, and it went all the way down to the doorman to have that clear vision and understanding to show that value. So lastly, what I want to do is talk a bit about this scorecard. So what does it mean? I don’t think perfect, is something we can all achieve.

We can get pretty close. So don’t forget we’re going to have a perfect boss, because all of us, honestly, could do with some improvement. We can say that to ourselves. So what you want to make sure that if I were to give you this right here, and you were to look at your team members, and you said, am I doing these things? So number one, think to yourself, for yourself, for your teams? Are you communicating the vision that you have? And now you’re aligning them to the work that’s being done every day. So whatever vision you have as a company, whatever vision you have, as a department, whatever vision you have, as a team, how does all that roll up and roll down so that everyone is aligned to understand what the objectives are, what the goals you’re trying to achieve, and why that person’s role is important to those objectives and goals. Secondly, you want to set clear expectations. Sounds like common sense doesn’t always happen. So if you level set and say this is what I’m expecting of you, this What I need you to be doing, this is the bottom line. It could be measuring KPIs. It can be quantitative, it could be qualitative. But be clear. Make sure that you’re setting that and you’re aligning that.

[14:13] Elaine Nowak:

Next, you want to make sure that you have coaches and mentors on your team. So you have people that are supporting, what does a coach do? It helps to write out the play, they’re going to keep you motivated. Your coach is going to help you stay on the path. Make sure that what you’re doing is the right thing to be doing to achieve those objectives and goals. And what does a mentor do? So a mentor is there to help facilitate you in your growth in your career, and help provide you with their experience and wisdom and insight to make you a better employee. So coaches have mentors, make them part of your organization, part of your teams. You want to provide clarity with feedback. This is an important one because when you do give feedback when you might have some situations where issues arise, make sure that whatever you’re giving and providing to that team member, you do it in such a way that you provide supporting evidence. So you provide information, give examples, make sure that when you’re structuring your feedback, it’s very clear why you are giving that feedback, what you can do to make it better.

So clarity in your feedback and the way that you provide guidance and information. This one’s also I think they’re all important but recognizes efforts and incentivizes good performance. So how are you doing that for your teams? Do you recognize maybe it’s just a Starbucks gift card? Maybe it’s just a pat on the back or an accolade or word, a good word of encouragement. That is a great way to keep your team motivated. Are you doing that every day, once a week, at all? So think to yourself, we all know it’s nice when you get recognized and you get accolades. So do a little something to help keep your team motivated to provide a little bit something to say, Yep. Good job and Attaboy, you’re doing, you’re doing things well. And you could also incentivize. So if there’s a certain goal if you make X amount of phone calls, or if you get X amount of emails, or if you do some kind of quantitative quantified number or something, that’s a tangible thing. And then they achieve that provide a little bit of a word, something that also gives them something to strive towards. And it also provides them that ability to say, Okay, I know I can get there. I can achieve this, I can make this happen. appears approachable. This goes back to that good characteristic. So make sure that you are a boss, that’s not going to be riddled by criticism, that if someone approaches you about something that you’re open, that you want to make sure that you are the ears and you will be the one who’s listening to everyone back in was it kindergarten when they said that’s why you only have one mouth and two ears. Listen twice as much. Listen to what they’re saying. So make sure that you are one of those approachable people so that the information that you get from your team can be consumed.

And then you can learn to grow together. And then lastly, I know that you probably don’t think HighRadius is fun, but we are no, just kidding. Everything we do is crazy. In terms of fun, but we like to make work fun. It’s great to work hard. It’s great to get things done. But also inject a little fun into things. Make it be a little silly at times because that also helps keep people that help with the stress levels. It also means how much time do you spend at work in your week, you probably spend more time at work than you do at home. So why not make it a little fun? Why not have that opportunity. Great leaders, create more leaders. Good leaders. So if you just want to be a good leader, they have a vision. They inspire others to help them turn their vision into reality. But great leaders create more leaders, not followers.

[18:07] Elaine Nowak:

And great leaders have a vision. They share that vision. And they inspire others to create their vision. Any questions? Does anyone have anything they want to share just in terms of you as a leader, maybe some techniques or something that you have done that you felt helped motivate your team or you felt like it was a great communication tool or something like that?

[18:35] Elaine Nowak:

Everyone’s ready for Happy Hour?

[18:39] Elaine Nowak:


[18:49] Audience 1:

I was asking, how do you get your team to engage in the surveys, whether it be electronic or a suggestion box? A lot of times they seem hesitant to just respond, you know? You get very little participation.

Elaine Nowak:

Sure. So I would say this goes back to incentivizing. Make it a contest. First Person, first 10 people to fill out the survey are going to get something and make it something, you know, like a Starbucks gift card, or it could be a community coffee gift card, I’m not going to be biased, either way. But give them a little something like that. So first 10 people that fill it out, or it could be you know, give them a deadline and say you I want to get I need these surveys back. Here’s why I’m asking this question. So give them the reason behind it. If you’re putting a survey out there because you want to help figure something out, or you have an issue or you want to get their pulse, and you want to get their opinion about something, why. So share what your end goal is, and then that also injects into it a little bit more like okay, now I understand. Now maybe I’ll do this because I can see the value in putting that survey out there and getting those answers and maybe making improvements as a result.

Audience 1:

Good. suggestion, thank you.

[20:09] Audience 2:

Hey, I want to hear your perspective on what you think about the evolution of leadership, generationally. And also geographically, right? Because if you take the same leader in the US, that applies the trades, to a certain generation, Gen X, Y, etc, where maybe if this global executive is operating next year in Russia, in China, in Latin America, I mean, this has to change. I mean, it’s the way, the way you inspire the way you capture the way that you retain employees. I mean, culture matters and leadership has evolved through the years I mean, since biblical times. What’s your perspective regarding that?

[20:57] Elaine Nowak:

I think he, you answered your own question. that you do have to understand the culture. You have to take into account where your offices are, what the culture, the lay of the land is. Now when we talk about generationally, millennials, right. You hear this all the time, millennials, they’re entering the workforce. What are some of the things we hear about millennials, right? They don’t want to do the work that they don’t want to put in the time. It could be true in some cases, I think that could be an employee. But if we do understand, generally, generally, generationally, generationally, and we understand that millennials want to do the work, but they’re not going to stay five years and position because they want to move on. They want to get into different roles. So give them different projects, engage them in a way that’s going to be receptive to them, as a millennial as new in the workplace. So it’s, they might want to multitask, maybe it’s multiple projects. So if you can read into that information and understand how they consume again, going back to how does that employee? How does that team member consume, and whether it’s the culture that you’re taking to account, or whether it’s the generation from which they stemmed, all those things are factors in making your decision, and how you should work with that employee and how they’re going to be best motivated. I do think that leadership, we could all name someone that we recognize as a good leader. And that person would probably have, if I named that person because I lived in Russia, I named that person because I lived in the United States. It might be slightly different, but there are probably some characteristics that will always be the same across the good leaders. Genuine people that are genuine people that are trustworthy, right, that you can ingrain trust in those people because of the way they lead because of the way they act. Right.

[22:49] Elaine Nowak:

Do we have any other questions or any other thoughts?

[23:00] Audience 3:

Hi, I was just thinking, you know, earlier you were talking about the millennials. I mean, I think, at least for us, we have experienced a different aspect where some of our Millennials are very motivated folks. And, and but what’s interesting is, what motivates them oftentimes is not the same, right? So right, and, and retaining them almost takes more energy than not just because they put in the work and they are expecting rewards much faster and at a much faster rate. So I’ll be curious to understand, you know, as we look into the workforce where we have a platform of really umm. How should I say generational diversity, right, like where we have millennials, and so much so how do we keep them motivated? Where I mean, not everybody will. So for example, for with our millennials, some of them enjoy public recognition, because that is what motivates them to keep going right. But then for others, that’s not necessary so I would like to understand from your perspective, what are some of the things that you’ve tried to keep the entire force of the workforce motivated while tailoring that message, right tailoring that that appreciation, I guess, a form of appreciation?

[24:12] Elaine Nowak:

So one of the things that I’ve seen that’s quite successful on teams, goes back to when I talked about mentors, right? You have these millennials. And I hate to generalize millennials, let’s say new people coming into the workforce, okay? These new people who come to the workforce are very open to technology. They’re very open, they’ve lived their whole lives in the digital age. So they are very comfortable with technology. So if you have that new team member who comes in, they could be the mentor to where those older team members are more senior, let’s say so that they can partner up and help each other. There are ways that you can use the advantages again, going back to the idea of strengths, what are the strengths, whether their strengths across the generations or the experience So maybe that more senior team member who has tremendous knowledge and experience can share with those more junior team members to help get them and share that information and experience. Yes. Sure.

[25:24] Audience 4:

Off of her question, when you have a new person who may be more technologically advanced than some of your senior people, I speak from experience I have two long-timers, 30 years and two brand new people on my team. How do you transition the thought process of the senior members to accept the teachings of the people that they don’t value as knowledgeable enough to teach them?

[25:56] Elaine Nowak:

Fair enough. So I think that if we all educate, we had a session last year, who was here last year at Radiance. They had a session about generations. And talking about millennials and Gen X and Gen Y. But I think the biggest thing is education. In terms of if we say it again, this is a stereotype, it’s typical. It’s typical behavior of this Boomer, it’s typical behavior of a millennial. But if we share that, communicate that and you do education sessions, where you say, Okay, this is how typically, they might consume, this is how they do tasks. This is how they’re motivated. As a millennial, they might be motivated in whatever ways as someone older, maybe they’re motivated by different things. So if you can get to the educating and making sure that those older, more senior members, 30 years, I mean, we see this a lot, I think, especially in the credit, we’re seeing that there’s a lot of older and now we’re seeing these very young people coming in and it’s changing over. So communicating and having people understand, I recommend if you have your departments, I think it’s a fantastic thing to do personality tests to do test assessments because there’s certain and there’s a lot of good ones out there. Because these can provide you. Is it a person that consumes information in a certain way? Is this a person whose personality is not going to get along with this other personality? So you do these kinds of assessments, and then you can get a little bit more of an insight into how can I get my team motivated? How can I get them to work with each other? And maybe I don’t always put Jim with Betty because the two of them get together and they are just clashing because their personalities are handling it in different ways. Or going back to that, you know, that there are issues that make sure they understand, okay, Jim, you know that when Betty gets information, you have to write it down for her or Jim, just send me the email. I don’t want to talk to you in person, but understanding the way that different people want their information given or sent will go a long way to help keep your teams running and working with each other. Does it make sense? Okay, any other questions or thoughts, or anything else you’d like to share?

[28:20] Audience 5:

So earlier on, you talked about giving an end goal or an expectation and then allow it in place to get to it their unique way. So one of the things that have been pushed is standardized work. Do you think those two things conflict? How do you standardize work and then allow them to get to it their unique way?

Elaine Nowak:

So standardized, okay. So again, a standardized process is very, it can be a very important thing. We have one of these dashboards you heard a lot now about let’s say, it’s a dashboard that shows the collectors and the work that they’re doing and it’s comparing one collector with another and who’s making the most calls and who’s getting the most emails out and, and now you pitting your team’s against each other to say, well, you can also look at it as well as this successful person, what are the things that they’re doing, and you can standardize to those practices. But I do think that you should leave the room. Innovation does not grow in an environment in which it’s completely aligned and sealed. You can’t grow and change and pivot. That’s something that’s a big factor that we have at HighRadius, you talk about it all the time. Change is the only constant. So you should have standardized processes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to other ways of doing things. As a technology company, we would not be here, if people were not open to other ways of doing things. We wouldn’t even exist as a company.

And obviously, we’ve come a long way because people are willing to say, maybe there’s a better way to do it. But standardized processes are important too so that you can identify what’s working well, but you have to be willing to change it just because it’s working well doesn’t mean it couldn’t be working even better. It’s a bit of this, that balance right? To standardize your processes, then you can get much more accomplished. But then at the same time, be open to ideas and innovation and the possibilities of doing it a different way. And then maybe make that your standard process because it turns out to be a very successful thing. Have one person work on that, figure it out that way. share that with the team. Anyone else? Other questions or thoughts about how to be a good boss? How did everyone do in their scorecard? Does everyone get an Ace? I think it’s good to take that back and give yourself you don’t show to anyone else. Grade yourself. Are you doing those things to be that good boss to have that success for your teams?

[30:52] Audience 6:

So I got here a little bit later. You’re Elaine, right?

[30:58] Elaine Nowak:

Elaine, yes. Okay.

[31:00] Elaine Nowak:

What do you do in your company? I mean, you’re sharing a lot of great insights on leadership people and all that. You in HR or what do you offer?

[31:13] Elaine Nowak:

What do I personally do at the company? Okay, so I work in marketing, marketing is usually very fun, outgoing people, right? That’s our, our stick. But I do a lot of work with customers within HighRadius. And I do a lot of work with having those customers become thought leaders and become advocates. And I get these customers to speak on behalf of whatever topics it might be information about technology, it might be case studies about the work they’ve done with HighRadius. So I identify those people. And I asked a lot of people to do conferences and webinars and you know, and I go to a lot of events so that I can meet people face to face because I find it super valuable. When you know someone it’s hard to say no when you’re asking the right to their face, that’s what I find. So I do a lot of that for the company. And then what I gained from the customers that I talked to, maybe they’re going to share something about the product that can help improve us. And I bring that back to my product teams. So we are constantly looking for ways to keep improving and if you’ve been doing this, as you probably heard it more than once that we want to hear what our customers want. And then we want if it’s something that’s going to be successful, that customer might be successful across to other customers and we will integrate those into our products. But I do marketing forHighRadius that we should all be marketers. By the way, we should always be our brand to make sure that we’re doing everything we can for our organization. So everyone should be in marketing and anything else, any other questions. I hope you found this session helpful so you can get your cards. We are going to send all the presentations out afterward. So thank you all. I enjoyed the session. I hope you did too. Thank you.

[0:00] Elaine Nowak: So today we’re talking about how to be a good boss, tips to grow your organization’s next-gen leaders. And a lot of what I’m going to say is probably going to be common sense. But what I’m looking to do and offer you today is this opportunity to reflect on yourself as a leader, and to take a moment and think, am I doing these things? Am I doing what is best for me to be a leader and to create future leaders from my team? So first, let’s start with and I’m going to make this interactive. So I’m going to need your participation. What do you think are the characteristics of a good boss versus a bad boss? So let’s start with a bad boss. Can you just shout it out? What’s something that’s a bad boss? characteristic? micromanaging? No trust? Unapproachable? Yes. Okay. And then let’s talk about what are the characteristics of a good boss, the exact opposite of everything we said. macro managing approachable, right? building that trust and advocate for you. That’s right to advocate for the team members very important parts of what we think. So what do you think…

What you'll learn

  • Grooming the next generation leaders: A proactive leader’s guide.
  • The architecture of a perfect boss: A scorecard to your leadership skills.

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