15 Qualities of a Good Boss
This article outlines qualities of a good boss.
Working for a good boss is a very motivating experience. It makes one to work even harder and give their very best efforts at the workplace while at the same time enjoying your job.
You can quickly skim all the 15 qualities on the table of contents below and then click on any quality to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Having a clear vision
- Knowing how to execute the vision
- Is available for employees
- Sets high standards and is demanding in terms of results achievement
- Shares credit with staff
- Shares relevant information
- Cares about the well-being of staff
- Respects employees
- Delegates appropriately
- Empowers staff
- Regularly praises staff on a job well done
- Does not micro-manage
- Listens to employees
For a boss to effectively lead his or her team, they need to have a clear vision of exactly what they want to achieve at work and in which direction their team should be going.
A good boss is one who leads a team in a common and unified direction.
The boss needs to clearly understand the big picture regarding the company including the company’s vision, mission and strategic goals and then clearly identify where his unit, department or team fits within the overall company vision.
“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” ― Jonathan Swift
The next step after having a clear vision is to put it to work.
A good boss should easily communicate their specific vision to subordinates. The vision ensures focus, alignment and efficiency.
It is important to breakdown the vision into bite-sized chunks and outline the road-map for getting to the desired goals one step at a time.
A boss can communicate the vision through various forums such as group meetings or one-on-one discussions with staff.
The objective is to share what needs to be accomplished and why, and then encourage questions from subordinates to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
A good boss frequently reminds the team about the vision and regularly measures results against established milestones and targets and course corrects appropriately.
“You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there. You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration. In the Internet industry, it’s not about grand innovation, it’s about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better.” ― Jason Calacanis
No-one wants to work with a difficult or uncaring boss. A good boss is one who is kind, helpful, caring and compassionate.
This does not mean that the boss should be a wimp or a push-over rather the opposite is true, the boss should be confident enough to show their human side.
As emotional beings, we all have our ups and downs, during instances where for example an employee is sick or has a family emergency, a good and understanding boss supports the employee appropriately such as through granting sick off or a word of sympathy or encouragement.
Employees who work for a supportive boss are more likely to be happier; less stressed and have higher work output.
“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” ― Albert Schweitzer
The inability to make a decision or letting decision making drag on and on is a trait of a poor boss.
Good bosses are decisive; they do not get caught up in never ending loops of analysis paralysis.
It doesn’t mean that they hastily make decisions; instead, depending on the situation and urgency, a good boss is able to weigh the available information and the missing information, probe to find more data or facts, consult others and make a decision that they believe is the best one based on the circumstances.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
A good boss is one who has an open door policy and is available for subordinates when they need him or her.
Accessibility is critical; it gives you an advantage because employees feel comfortable reaching out and talking to you especially before a problem arises.
That way you don’t end up being a boss who is running around helter-skelter wildly putting out fires because employees were afraid to approach you in the first place before the fire started.
An approachable boss is trusted more by subordinates and breeds a culture of high morale and greater employee engagement in their work.
Subordinates in turn feel comfortable sharing with the boss their suggestions, feedback, recommendations, solutions and ideas that could be valuable for the success of the company.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo Buscaglia
A good boss sets a high bar for achievement and demands good results from all her subordinates.
It all starts with the bosses setting high performance standards for themselves and actively working towards achieving them.
Employees get more motivated and inspired upon seeing their boss walking the talk. A good boss both expects and motivates subordinates to produce their best efforts.
After performance goals have been set, the boss expects subordinates to be accountable in reaching the targets.
Regular check-ins, evaluations and performance assessments are conducted along the way to ensure the train is still running on the tracks.
A good boss regularly addresses any challenges, deviations, shortcomings and mediocrity in a timely manner and keeps the team moving towards a shared goal.
“You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.” ― Michael Jordan
One of the most demotivating things that some bosses do is taking all the credit and either ignoring or forgetting to acknowledge the input, contributions and work of others.
A good boss always remembers to acknowledge and recognize the input of subordinates and team members.
It uplifts the spirits of the team when a boss publicly points out the good work and individual contributions that staff have done in making a specific project a success. It also strengthens collaboration and trust among the team.
Sharing credit with others does not cost the boss anything yet it has a high return on investment. When good behavior and performance is praised, acknowledged and recognized, it is likely to be repeated.
This can lead to a snowball effect where the employees who have been appreciated keep performing better and better thereby increasing the overall success and contribution of a particular unit, department, division, branch and the overall company.
“One of the toughest things for leaders to master is kindness. Kindness shares credit and offers enthusiastic praise for others’ work. It’s a balancing act between being genuinely kind and not looking weak.” ― Travis Bradberry
As a caveat, this does not mean that a boss should go willy-nilly sharing confidential, private and sensitive information with others.
A good boss knows how to use tact, discretion and good judgement in deciding which information is public and which should be private.
A good boss does not hoard information nor do they ignore staff and leave them in the dark.
A good boss shares relevant information with staff such as updates on company performance, sales metrics, team progress, challenges facing the company, company success, brainstorming solutions with the team etc.
The boss also shares big picture information with staff, explains changes, shares departmental progress updates etc.
The objective is for employees to know what is going on both within their department and in the company.
Transparency is a key trait of a good boss. In the absence of information from the boss, subordinates would receive information from the grapevine which might be inaccurate.
“In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.” ― Joseph L. Badaracco
A good boss genuinely cares about the happiness of his or her staff.
Some ways of caring about the well-being of staff include the following: providing good and safe working conditions; enabling career growth for employees; providing monetary rewards such as promotions, pay raises and bonuses.
Providing good competitive salaries and benefits; opportunities for professional development and training; challenging work assignments and offering regular feedback and praise.
Other ways of caring about staff consist of valuing staff time by having fewer and relevant meetings; instituting and upholding a company culture with strong shared values and encouraging work life balance.
Flexible work schedules; telecommuting; employee recognition and awards; and valuing employees as individuals and genuinely asking about the employee’s hobbies, interests and family.
All these actions help to increase job satisfaction and show employees that their boss cares about them.
“Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organization to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence.” ― David Zinger
A good boss treats subordinates with respect.
On the flip side, bad bosses are disrespectful. Typical ways of disrespecting employees include yelling, shouting, sulking, losing your temper, bullying, blaming others and not sharing credit.
Other forms of disrespect include: indecision, avoiding conflict, unavailability, playing favorites, hiding relevant information, poor communication, gossiping, insincerity, over-delegation, too many meetings, selective and distracted listening, boss is never wrong attitude and forgetting promises that you had made to staff. A workplace with disrespect is toxic, unproductive and fearful.
Good bosses earn respect from their employees by doing the right things such as holding employees accountable for their job, appreciating and praising subordinates, caring for staff, listening attentively, being available, having empathy, delegation and trust.
Empowerment, good working conditions, being decisive, admitting mistakes, sharing credit, common courtesies, pitching in during critical times to help staff and fighting for your employees privileges are all hallmarks of good bosses.
“I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” ― Julius Erving
Good bosses know that they cannot do everything alone. They recognize and acknowledge the benefits of delegating work to subordinates.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Delegation as “the act of giving control, authority, a job, a duty, etc., to another person.”
A good boss knows the skills and capabilities of his or her subordinates and knows what tasks to delegate to which staff.
The first benefit of delegation is that it frees up the boss’ time to focus on high-level priorities, strategic thinking, decision making, creativity and long term planning.
Other benefits of delegation include: creating a culture of trust when the boss assigns some of his tasks to a subordinate; it gives employees an opportunity to stretch and grow their capabilities through working on new assignments; employees feel valued and important and this can boost morale.
Delegation similarly offers a training opportunity for staff to learn new skills from the boss.
“The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t.” ― Anthea Turner
Good bosses give staff freedom and authority to make decisions within certain tasks and areas of their expertise.
This enables employees to fix problems, come up with ideas and suggestions and implement solutions without having to keep going back to the boss or supervisor to ask for permission.
This creates a liberating environment where employees can really shine and become top performers within their respective niches.
The overall beneficiaries of employee empowerment are the customers who get faster and more top-notch, high quality service.
Employee empowerment can likewise lead to creativity and innovation where the staff figure out better, easier, faster and efficient ways to do their daily processes.
“You have to enable and empower people to make decisions independent of you. As I’ve learned, each person on a team is an extension of your leadership; if they feel empowered by you they will magnify your power to lead.” ― Tom Ridge
As humans we all have a need for appreciation. Bosses who do not praise their subordinates are doing them a disservice.
A good boss always finds an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the good work being done by employees.
Praise can be done either privately or publicly.
When a boss praises the specific activity that the staff has accomplished, this boosts the self-esteem of the person and increases the likelihood of the good performance being repeated again and again.
Giving praise is one of the easiest and inexpensive ways to motivate staff.
Benefits of giving praise include happier employees, more commitment, better customer care, better work performance, less absenteeism, less turnover, better financial performance, better staff morale and overall people enjoy working with each other in a pleasant and friendly way.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”
― H.A. Ironside
The best way to show staff that you don’t trust them is to micromanage them. To constantly peer over their shoulders and watch their every move like a hawk.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes micromanage as “to try to control or manage all the small parts of (something, such as an activity) in a way that is usually not wanted or that causes problems.”
A boss who micromanages staff is one who likes to centralize power and decision making around himself. The boss is not confident that employees will do a good job and thus is comfortable watching every step as staff perform their duties.
Good bosses do not micromanage staff but it is important to note that there are situations where micromanagement is warranted such as during critical deadlines or when a staff member is new and the boss is taking time to learn the work habits and productivity of the new team member in order to determine how much autonomy to give the new staff.
Another area where there could be micromanagement is when an employee’s performance level is below expectations and the boss is working with them to remedy the situation.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” ― Stephen Covey
One way to compliment someone and to show that you care is to truly listen to them. Good bosses make time to listen to their staff.
Good bosses listen to staff without interrupting them, allowing the staff to fully articulate their issue and feel they have been heard and understood.
A good boss asks questions to learn more or clarify what they have just heard.
In addition, the boss can give well thought out answers as a result of listening keenly.
A good boss shows nonverbal signs to signal that they are listening to you such as nodding, looking at you and making eye contact. By listening to employees a boss can learn important information.
It correspondingly builds trust and confidence between the boss and subordinates. Listening shows empathy for staff especially if the staff is sharing personal information that is affecting their work output.
Finally, listening to feedback about current processes and proposed new initiatives provides valuable insights and data that can save the company time and money in terms of efficiency.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” — Ralph Nichols
Additional Resources on Qualities of a Good Boss
- 20 Things the Most Respected Bosses Do Every Day
- 5 Must-Have Qualities Of The Modern Manager
- 7 Unsung Habits of Highly Respected Managers
- 13 Personality Traits of a Great Boss
- Top 10 Traits of an Exceptional Boss
- Signs of a Great Leader: How to be a Good Boss
- 8 Qualities of a Truly Great Boss