A good boss is …

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Young business woman posing over white backgroundOur friends over at The Hiring Site recently asked recruiters and hiring managers to explain what makes a good leader. They compiled the responses and created an excellent, 11-point list of qualities that define a true leader. Among the many traits are integrity, communication, confidence and passion.

Not surprising, right? However, just because we know what a leader should be doesn’t mean all leaders — or supposed leaders — possess these qualities. (The situation is similar to knowing what makes a good employee. We all know hard work and ambition make good employees, but not everyone acts accordingly. )

I thought it would be interesting to hear what you have to say about what makes a good leader or boss. Is leadership a necessity to be a good boss? What are the must-haves of a boss? What qualities are nice but not necessary?

I recently wrote an article discussing what makes a good boss, and here are some responses:

· “Be consistent and predictable. It is hard for subordinates to make the boss look good when the boss behaves erratically and every situation seems to result in a unique decision.” — Wayne Botha of Botha Consulting

· “They are able to get you to do something without using coercive tactics or bullying. They’re able to frame the discussion in the same way a good basketball coach tells you what the best play will be.” — Andrew Lee, co-founder and CEO of JamLegend.com

· “Promote from within. Develop your subordinates and then promote them when the opportunity arises. Subordinates will quickly understand your intentions when you always hire people from outside your organization for top positions.” — Botha

· “A good boss will defend your actions (when they are defensible) and will help you when there is a problem.” — Deborah Graham

· “A good boss understands that every task given to you cannot be your No. 1, top priority and will work with you to readjust priority lists if necessary.” — Graham

· “A good boss knows the overall value each employee brings to the organization, and keeps that in mind. So, a single transgression by an otherwise excellent employee doesn’t demand the same response as the same transgression by an employee who consistently makes mistakes.” — Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing at Clare Computer Solutions

· “A good boss keeps you informed about what is happening at the higher management levels and what projects might be coming down the road.” — Graham

So tell us, what do you think makes a good boss?

46 Comments
  1. What makes a good boss? Good bosses (ergo, good leaders)universally share the common trait of having genuine high self-esteem. Those that are weak in self-confidence, the low self-esteemers, are often extremely dangerous people. These are the managers that surround themselves with sycophants and flattering courtesans, rather than build a team of super-capable achievers. Yes, the good bosses are secure in who they are.

  2. A good boss is able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of his or her team and will work to motivate the team by utilizing everyone’s strengths and work to develop the team’s weak points.

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  4. A good boss doesn’t put his or her feet on the desk, randomly check (and reply to) email during a one-on-one meeting, stare at the caller ID when his or her phone rings… and most of all, a good boss doesn’t adjust him or herself where others may witness it.

  5. A good Boss is one who’s paycheck is directly affected by those under him/her. One who considers him/herself to be one of the team, has proven techniques and protocol to help everyone function efficiently and treats everyone as an asset, would never fire anyone no matter what there production. The only place you will ever find a boss like that is with the network marketing business! your success is every ones success! if you have a lager well, they just drop off the team and it takes care of itself, no stress, no blame, your job is what you make it. I own my own marketing business (FHTM) and the system is perfect not sure why more people dont see it but thats ok because we still need Doctors, waitresses, etc. but all these unemployed people need to stop looking to Welfare and consider what could possibly make them financially stable

  6. A good boss doesn’t use their position or staff to act out problems at home or personal issues or situations. They are professional and mature enough to separate the two and act accordingly. A good boss is fair, sets a good example and does not favor, backbite, play staff against each other or is part of the office politics. A good boss respects his staff, listens, is available, follows up, responds timely and appropriately…all the things he would expect from his own boss. Unfortunately, there are fewer good bosses out there than bad ones….

  7. A good boss is fair. This does not mean being easy or a pushover – just fair. I like someone’s comment that a good boss considers him/her self to be one of the team, and I would add does not think of him/herself as above the team even though his/her rank is.

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  17. Above all other things, a good boss is fair and impartial. They recognize a job well done and give kudos when deserved. A “great” boss respects their staff as they wish to be respected. They ask, not demand that things get done. They do NOT demean anyone, most especially not their subordinates and absolutely never address any issues in front of other staff. They are willing to go the extra mile and they treat their staff as the adults they are unless it is otherwise warranted. In short, they act as a part of the team rather than “lording” over their subordinates.

    • A good leader must have favorites and they must be well known and celebrated, otherwise high achievers have no motivation. Understand that “favorites” are judged on performance and not personality.

  18. A good boss is someone who possesses many traits. The one that I have found that stands out above all is–allowing an employee to think and do the job they were hired for without micro-managing. This has always helped me to grow, learn, be creative and perform 150%. Respect and appreciation are right up there as they modivate me in more ways than one. A good boss will be generous and share the spotlight when required. It takes a good leader to have great employees!

  19. Traits and principles define a leader. Without these your leader becomes a BOSS… not what the worker needs. These traits and principles are defined
    TM 22-100 (Military leader) written by civilians. The seven (7) traits and thirteen (13) principles are what a great leader will define him/herself. A great leader can take his people into hell and they will look forward to the trip.

  20. So True, its not easy to be The Boss, you carry a load of responsibilities plus but part of being a good boss is knowing how to delegate responsibilities with the best results overall. To be successful as a Boss, Manager, Supervisor, Leader, its important to recognize the abilities of the team members and how to best promote those abilities, Listen more than Demand, Instruct rather than Insult or Demean mistakes, find out what led to an error so that corrective action can be taken in a firm, fair, and consistent manner. Every one has a bad day, we’re all entitled now and then but recognizing we’re not in the best of moods is a key to being able to control our emotions so as not to impose our temporary frame of mind on others at that time. The main purpose of having a supervisor is to oversee, direct, and produce desired results, employees are the ones who make that happen. The Best Team is led by a Team Leader, not a BOSSY Supervisor.

  21. to be a good boss, you must first have a good employee or staff. its not possible to be a good boss if you have a non-functional team underneath you. it just plain suicide!

  22. A good boss is many things. Leadership is neither an art or science, but both. To be good you must care to be good and seek knowledge, wisdom and experience. The hardest parts are careing and knowledge. To care may involve changing the way you think about people and situations ( example: Don’t take the bad things or situations personal. It will just frustrate you and you may make the wrong decisions). Knowldge: Most supervisors and managers do not get consistant formal training in leadership, counceling or people skills. They are expected to work within the guide lines of the companies policies. And most of all realize your not incharge but you’re soley liable and responsible.

    US Army Retired

  23. A good boss…

    -leads by example.

    -follows the rules that he/she expects others to follow. NOT you must be here at 8AM and I’ll be here…later maybe after my golf game.

    -does not have favorite employees.

    -applies the policies of the company to everyone equally.

    -is fair, I have worked for some idiots at Verizon Wireless that would pat some on the back for calling in to say they were going to be late, and those of us that were on time got nothing???

    -is honest, if the company is going to lay me off and you(the boss) finds out 6mnths before …uh just let me know

  24. MY BOSS ACT LIKE THE TAIL AND NOT THE HEAD SHE ALSO RELISE ON 2ND HAND IMFORMATION TO FIX PROBLEMS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT. SHE DOSNT NO MORE THAN US SO SHE CANT EVER HELP FIX ANYTHING MOST TIME MAKES IT WORSE

  25. Let me give you a Quote that has allowed me to lead men in combat as well as people in the civilian world.

    If anything goes bad I did it. If anything goes semi-good we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That is all it takes to get people to win for you.
    - Bear Bryant

    Live this Quote and you can lead people!

  26. A good boss doesn’t favor men over women and make demeaning comments to those men about the women with the women present. It’s bad for moral.

    In today’s society people really need their jobs and unfortunately put up with all the politics that job comes with.

  27. A good boss does not have an affair with an employee and while carrying on that affair hires another person he is having an affair with right in the same workplace and openly flaunts this affair in front of person number 1. This is called a total workplace fiasco and causes untold problems, contentions and stress on everybody.
    A good boss does not play god and think he/she is untouchable and can do whatever he/she pleases without consequences.
    A good boss does not conduct himself as a tyrant and use his position to reject or fire people because of his/her personal feelings.
    A good boss should, as someone else said in their comment, should lead by example and try to be at least half way moral.

  28. A good boss is someone who does not call middle management and force them to hire someone underqualified for a position because they are acquaintances or friends with whomever. A good boss does not force middle management to fire someone qualified for the position (Ph.D.) in favor of the less competent, underqualified one they know.

  29. Someone is gonna print this list out and put it in the breakroom bullentin board as a subliminal shot to their boss. That’d be funny.

    • I disagree with Chris (#22). Subliminal shots are not acceptable in the workplace. If you have an issue with someone you work with, have the courage to confront them face to face.

  30. I worked in a restaurant and the boss was very cheap. She would buy no name products and charge through the nose for the meal. She couldn’t do dishes correctly and everything still came out dirty and hazy because she didn’t want to buy the right chemicals. She hogged all the tables when serving because she wanted the tips. She hadn’t a clue what went on in the kitchen and having her in there was a disaster. As far as a good boss goes, I don’t know what that’s like. Just because you buy a restaurant, that doesn’t mean you treat people like dirt.

  31. A good boss should be able to spell correctly or at least use spell-check before sending out e-mails. Also a good boss should know the difference between their, there and they’re and your and you’re. MAKES ME CRAZY!!!!!

  32. There are process managers (bosses) and people managers but rarely do you find both in one person. To me, there are several signs of a good/great boss.
    1. Find out what each employee needs, pats on the back or to be left alone. Lots of communication, only occasional and 100% relevant communication and so on.
    2. You can’t be the boss and hang out with the gang as one of their “friends” on the weekend because rarely can people leave the friendship at the door when they walk into work.
    ’3. Listen more than talk.
    4. Challenge me to not just succeed but exceed and recognize it when I do.
    5. Be fair and consistant.
    6. Remember that you tend to get what you give, Respect begets respect, loyalty begets loyalty.
    7. Leave home at the door to your job.’
    8. Remember that I too am a person, just like you.

  33. A good boss cares about his employees, listens to them and doesn’t talk down to them. He also stands by you if you are right no matter the circumstances. A good boss will not lie to you or sugar coat an event, he will tell you the plain out truth, no holes barred.

  34. It sounds like a good boss lives up to the employee’s expectations (which usually involves what is best for the employee.)
    It is difficult to please everyone when they each have different needs from their boss.

    A really good boss is one who can take all the differences each employee brings and have them all work together in the best way no matter what the situation. Different things motivate different people. Figuring out what works best & will get the best results is the key.

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