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14 building blocks to being a better boss

Let me be honest and say that I am a rubbish gardener. My heart is in it, but I lack the skills and knowledge to do it effectively. What this means is that my approach to gardening is to pull out the same one or two tools from the garden shed and attempt to use them in every situation. The result? Well, let's just say that I end up with lots of broken tools and plants that unfortunately need to be replaced.


Why do I share this with you when I’m talking about being a great boss? Too often, I see this approach happening with bosses, with ones who are well-intentioned getting it wrong and using the wrong tools in the wrong ways. And as with my garden, the results can be damaging and devastating for their employees and company.


That’s exactly why we created our Great Boss Building Block™ model, something that provides the right tools to deliver the right results. What makes it different from other models? Two things - First, it’s comprehensive, having 14 different tools that can be pulled out and used to meet the diverse needs of your people and business. Second, it’s current, having modern tools that meet the changing needs of the evolving workplace, not ones that represent old ways of thinking and working.


What is the Great Boss Building Block™ model?

Great Boss Building Block Model

There are 14 individual building blocks in the model, and since 14 is a big number, there are two things we’ve done to make it easier to understand and use:

  1. Two types of blocks - As you may have noticed in the image, there are two types of blocks: the six on the bottom, which we call the “foundation” blocks, and the eight on the top, which we call the “connecting” blocks. The foundation blocks represent behaviors and mindsets required to be a great boss. In the past, they may have been considered “soft and fluffy,” but there’s no doubt about it, they’re more paramount now than ever before. They are called foundation blocks because, like the foundation of any structure, they are absolutely critical as they support the weight of what’s being built, ensuring it has a stable base. The second set of blocks are the eight connecting ones, which connect your people to you and your company, acting as tools to drive employee engagement and build stronger relationships. These blocks represent actions required to be a great boss and are valuable in different ways to meet the diverse needs of your people. These connecting blocks, firmly built together on top of your foundation, create a strong and enduring structure.

  2. Blocks work in pairs - Another thing you may have noticed is that the blocks are shown in pairs, with two sitting alongside each other. This is intentional as they all have a partner, another block that is needed for the other to be effective and/or working towards the same goal.An example are the Authenticity and Vulnerability blocks. They both focus on achieving the same goal, which is to create a sense of safety and trust for and with your people, leading to stronger collaboration, connections, creativity, and overall success. These two blocks work together to achieve these goals in different ways. Think of them as things you might “wear” as a great boss. 


What are the building blocks?

So what are these building blocks? Here are high-level definitions for each of them:

  1. Empathy – You understand what your people feel and need based on their individual and diverse situations, challenges and frustrations.

  2. Compassion – You take action to encourage and support your people by understanding and empathizing with their individual and diverse needs.

  3. Authenticity – You determine and display who you are, what you believe in, and your true self to your people.

  4. Vulnerability – You reveal to your people the full spectrum of your true self, including your emotions, struggles, and imperfections.

  5. Respect – You believe in the value of your people, recognize their abilities and contributions, and treat them with dignity and courtesy. 

  6. Trust – You believe your people will do the right thing because you have confidence in their honesty, integrity, and reliability.

  7. Listening – You hear and decode what your people say and suggest, showing that you value their input and contributions.

  8. Communication – You share information with your people openly, honestly, transparently and continuously.

  9. Feedback – You provide information to your people on how they’ve behaved and performed to help them grow, learn and improve.

  10. Appreciation – You show your people that you recognize, acknowledge, value and appreciate their efforts, accomplishments and contributions.

  11. Development – You help your people create the best approach and plan for them to develop their abilities, learn new skills and achieve their goals.

  12. Coaching – You support and facilitate actions and activities to help your people learn, grow, discover and explore solutions to help them achieve their goals. 

  13. Empowerment – You give your people the freedom, power, control, and space to take ownership of their work.

  14. Inspiration – You motivate your people by driving them towards a common purpose to achieve milestones and overcome obstacles and challenges.


We hope you’ve found this introduction to the Great Boss Building Block™ model helpful, something you feel could help you be a better boss. For more information and details on the model and how to use it, please check out our book ‘Bad Bosses Ruin Lives: The Building Blocks for Being a Great Boss.’


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