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What Makes a Good Boss? Would YOU Ever Appreciate Having a Good Boss?
November 4th, 2009 by Kate Seidametova  Posted in Employee Rights, In the Workplace, Most Popular

idiot - good bossLast week I wrote a blog about Lousy Bosses titled “Working for an Idiot Boss: How to Handle a Lousy Boss?”.  It has resulted in tons of discussions throughout the Internet (thank you for your feedback, everyone!)

After doing some research and surveying employees to characterize and portray their bosses - the trend is clear: people generally don’t like their bosses. According to most employees, lousy bosses tend to be a lot more common than good bosses.  The fact is, many employees aren’t just annoyed their bosses’ poor leadership – they are often insulted by the incompetence of their bosses.  Ouch!

So after getting this feedback from many of our blog’s readers, I decided to continue writing about this topic of good or bad leadership and find out what it takes to be a good boss.

There are plenty of qualities that can make a great manager. A combination of strong leadership skills, people’s skills, hard work, professional manners, good communication skills, ability to motivate subordinates, and a likeable personality, all contribute to what we all like to call a “good boss”.

However, let’s be frank here… There is another kind of a boss that we all secretly admire.  The “cool boss” - the kind of boss that gives subordinates plenty of slack, doesn’t care about performance or discipline, spends company’s money on beer, and looks another way when you are an hour late to work or fail to do work.  Working with someone like that might make your life easier.  But does it REALLY make them a good boss? I honestly don’t think it does! In fact, after all the good times inevitably come to an end, chances are a boss like that is not going to last and you will be lucky if that style of management doesn’t land the company in trouble that may also cost you your job!

So what really makes a good boss?  With the help of a couple of dozen employees I narrowed it down to a list of ten important qualities for a good boss. Want to become one? Here is what you do:
  1. Be a good communicator – a good manager needs to communicate and explain tasks and assignments accurately and precisely, including the expected results, the execution, the strategy, the deadline, and anything else that would help employees in completing the task at hand.
  3. Give praise – have you heard of a carrot and a stick approach? Even though, I hate this phrase – the approach does work so don’t forget to apply the carrot!  After all, we are all humans – sometimes we make mistakes but even a worst employee sometimes does something well.  Don’t forget to give them praise for that! They will be more likely to do a good job again!
  5. Listen to your subordinates – chances are they may have some good advice for you. Try to meet with your employees face-to-face at least twice a month. By paying attention and listening to your employees you not only assure them you value their input, but they will open up to you, coming up with ideas and recommendations that you may find very useful.
  7. Don’t be overly secretive – one thing that all employees hate is feeling left out or left in the dark.  Especially, when it comes to important things like company changes. Tell personally about changes in the company to those who will be affected by them. 
  9. Provide employees with concrete feedback – try to give honest, constructive feedback and tell your subordinates what you really think of their work (either positives or negatives).   However, don’t go bashing subordinates in front of their colleagues! If there are problems, point them out in a private conversation. Mistakes in the workplace should result in correction not retribution.
  11. Know how to motivate your employees – and I mean but not yelling and throwing threats around the office!  Learn how to motivate your employees by applying praise and incentives, by assigning work wisely and by creating a friendly working environment. Studies show that when employees work on projects they enjoy and in a friendly atmosphere, they tend to be a lot more productive. 
  13. Help your employees grow – training your employees and teaching them new things, as well as learning WITH them is a great way to motivate, grow professionally as well as to bond with your entire team. Too many managers are focused only on the work and not on helping their employees grow.
  15. Know when to accept responsibility – great bosses know when to acknowledge their own mistakes and how to learn from their mistakes. Never (and I mean NEVER) hide behind you subordinates’ backs when making a mistake – you will lose their trust and respect forever.
  17. Respect your employees – in order to be effective, a business team must have a leader that is respected by all of its members.  In return, the leader must respect all of the member’s individual abilities. Without this kind of mutual respect a team cannot function and it will inevitably lead to problems.
  19. Avoid double standards - Can I do it better and how? This is the question that all good bosses should ask themselves. If you can’t put yourself in your employees’ shoes – you are not a good boss. If you don’t know how to do a task or handle a situation on the same level or better than your employee – you are not a good boss, especially if you are giving your employees a hard time and have no idea how you would have done anything differently.
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Tags: relationships-at-work, at-work, boss
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  • Its communication that makes all the difference. Open and honest communication adds value to the Boss's credibility.

    Politics is an essential part of office life and the Boss who ensures that Politics is clean ( though we call it dirty politics) can make their team sharp, smart and alert all times.

    Humility, Simplicity and Belongingness are other qualities of a great Boss.

    Communication, Concern and Clean politics is what I would summarise.

    Murali, UAE

  • Tim

    Definitely a refreshing article
    Keep up the good work

  • Christine

    Love it. Now if I could just get it mailed to my mangers anonymously it would be perfect.

    My management team does not do any of the above 10 items. When there is a problem, we should have caught it. If we express a concern, we are troublemakers. If we have ideas, its shutup you don't know what you are talking about. Communications skills is a foreign concept. Managers complain about company gossip, yet I get most of my rumours from my manager. Secretive....everything is a state secret (even though the staff has heard everything through the grapevine). I work with 3 managers who believe the best management style is re-active instead of pro-active. At times it is quite funny to watch them scurry for solutions, when their 'team' already had it figured out due to our trouble-shooting and problem solving skills. It has gotten to the point where we are already transitioning to the new 'method' before they even think of it. When we do make a suggestion it is dismissed for about 3 weeks, then they 'arrive' at a solution, identical to what was suggested. Must take all credit and no accountability for the initial disaster.

    I love my job and will not leave it. I can live with their foibles, it actually provides comic relief.

  • Rangarajan

    Very good article, it is really a fuel for thought for managers / leaders.

    Wish to see some more good articles in near future.

  • Gowrisankar

    Essential and top 10 qualities for a boss have been touched crisply.. I am a techie-cum-project manager handling a software product. In my experience, let them make mistakes and let them learn from them. Point them in the right direction to learn. Spoon feeding them to achieve short term goals might be detrimental to them as well as the project/product in long term.

  • Suleman Farooqui


    Its a very thought full article on the topic of BOSS.We all can reconcile and learn that how to become a good boss.

    Nice one



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