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Cathie Black’s Advice on How to be the Boss

Cathie Black, former chairman of Hearst Magazines, best-selling author, advisor, investor and board member in digital start-ups and entrepreneurial companies, offered her advice on being an excellent boss to The Daily Muse.

1. Be prepared. She revealed in the piece, “Something I often tell first-time managers: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you should be the best-prepared. When you know the facts and the stats, you’ll build confidence in your own decision making, not to mention impress your team and show them that you’ve really done your homework.”

To that point, find a mentor within your own organization. You can dish to each other about hiring, managing budgets, cost control, technology — whatever the topic. It’s always good to have someone to bounce off ideas.

2. Be a good presenter. As a manager it’s pretty much a given that you’ll need to present in front of the higher ups. Her advice? “Practicing your remarks, speech, or presentation until you know it cold is a must.”

Try to imagine yourself in the audience. Do you really want to hear a presenter go through a deck line by line, page by page? We didn’t think so either.

In addition to knowing your material, be comfortable in front of a room. She also advises standing in front of a mirror to watch your body language including your posture and gestures.

3. Be Direct, be fair, be strong, be optimistic. In the piece she explained, “As a boss, you must be direct with your team as a whole and as individuals. If their work is terrific, spread the compliments like honey. If they have missed the mark, be clear about where and how they have come up short and quickly lay out a plan to improve.”

As for criticism, do it privately instead of making it a group chastising.

As for being strong, whether you’re presenting a new idea, defending someone on your team or dealing with a difficult situation, project strength as well as confidence.

Lastly, she recommends being “optimistic and a positive thinker.”

3. Play your A game. Here’s her A, B, C theory: A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s and considering you can’t hit the ball out of the park with B’s and C’s, choose to surround yourself with A players.

“They can and should be different than you in age, experience, style, or personality, but together, you will be a stronger and more diverse team that can achieve amazing results. And whether you’re a new manager or seasoned one, it’s the results that count.”

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