What Makes a Great Boss?

19 Oct

Having a great boss can be a life-changing experience, making you more fulfilled in your job. On the other hand, having a terrible boss can make your work life a nightmare. So what makes a good supervisor? Great bosses do not act exactly the same, but they do have some things in common. Let’s take a look at some of the things that great bosses do:

  • They are clear on what they want: Employees shouldn’t have to read the tea leaves to understand what their bosses are looking for. Great bosses make themselves clear as to what they want in the workplace, as well as what they don’t want. These executives generally need to be good communicators in order to be great bosses.
  • They treat everyone fairly, but not identically:   Great bosses do not need to treat everyone the same. After all, each person is different, and be motivated by different things. Some will relish hands-on talks, while others prefer a lighter touch.  The best bosses pay attention to what they need to do to get the best out of their staff.
  • They are not afraid to hire people smarter than themselves, and let them shine: A boss needs to be able to manage the big picture. Those supervisors who are afraid that if they hire staff smarter than themselves, they will look pathetic by comparison are short-sighted. In fact, they may look even more intelligent, thanks to brilliant people bringing them excellent ideas and doing killer work.
  • They treat their employees as human beings, not commodities: The best bosses are leaders who want to guide their staff to do their best, and also take an interest in them as people. They also are willing to put in money and time for professional development so that their staff can grow as employees and as people.
  • They work harder than everybody else:  Bosses cannot expect their staff to work extra hours when needed if they aren’t right there working in the trenches with their employees. The quickest way for a boss to lose respect from the staff is to be taking a spa day, or going out on a golf outing, when the staff is working to the bone. That doesn’t mean supervisors can never play, but if they expect their employees to burn the midnight oil when needed, they need to set a good example.
  • They keep their staff informed, but protected: While employees don’t need to know everything, having knowledge of the mission, and what they need to do to get things done, can go a long way. However, they also protect their staff from all the stuff that rolls downhill from upper management, taking the heat themselves.

Lisa Swan writes for a variety of executive coaching sites, including



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