12 Most Appealing Boss Behaviors

12 Most Appealing Boss Behaviors

Great bosses, like great coaches, get the most out of their players. If you’re lucky enough to work for one, it means you’ll develop skills more quickly, develop skills you never thought you had, advance in your career, and if you’re really lucky, enjoy coming to work every day.

Here are the 12 most appealing boss behaviors — behaviors appealing not only to a boss’s direct reports, but also to the bosses of the boss.

1. Wants you to succeed

A great boss takes great satisfaction in helping an employee achieve results. This foundational aspect of the relationship is, more than anything, what builds the employee’s self-confidence, loyalty and passion for the job. In contrast, a boss who wants to keep the employee down and hog the spotlight creates a team of underachievers who will leave for greener pastures at the first opportunity.

2. Always has time to talk

Just as great salespeople make you feel like you’re their only customer, great bosses make you feel like you’re their only responsibility. The door is always open. No issue is too pressing to distract their attention from the problem you are discussing, no matter how trivial it may seem. This is smart business. If the boss doesn’t appear to care about the employee’s problems, why should the employee care?

3. Turns mistakes into teaching opportunities

A great boss doesn’t scream at you in the heat of battle for something you’re in the midst of screwing up. All that accomplishes is emotional flare-ups, shame and resentment. Instead, a great boss takes you aside later, in a period of calm, and goes over what happened. Part of that conversation may indeed be unpleasant, but you’ll come away knowing how to do better next time. Instead of fearing the next challenging situation, you’ll welcome it.

4. Keeps you on your toes

Because great bosses want you to succeed, they don’t mind giving you tough love. They’ll push you to do better, point out mistakes and poke around in your business to make sure you’re putting in the hours and not taking shortcuts. A great boss I had even went so far as to call customers I called on that week to see if I showed up when I said I did, and if so, how the call went. It felt intrusive, but looking back, it made me a more productive sales rep than I ever would have become otherwise.

5. Doesn’t micromanage

Even though great bosses keep you on your toes, they do it selectively, not 24/7. As any victim of micromanagement knows, a boss who constantly looks over your shoulder saps every ounce of creative energy out of you. It’s a slow, painful death. A great boss, in complete contrast, leaves matters in your hands, and can even make you feel at times like you’re working without a net. Feeling that independence and exposure to risk makes a job exciting and builds a sense of ownership in an employee.

6. Has consistent expectations

When you work for a certain type of bad boss, you come to the office every day in a state of anxiety. If one day you’re being told that filling out detailed reports is your main priority, and the next day you’re being told entertaining customers is your main priority, you’re bound to get confused, and never know whether you’re about to be fired or promoted. On the other hand, if you’ve been working for a great boss for any length of time, you’ll know what the priorities are without anything being said at all.

7. Has high expectations

Great bosses have high hopes for you — maybe higher than yours. A good boss praises you for a job well done and asks how you can do even better next time. The great boss gives you opportunities to further your education and take on new work challenges.

8. Conducts formal performance reviews

Everybody knows daily encouragement and “attaboys” improve morale, but employees benefit even more from regularly scheduled, comprehensive performance reviews. Employees need and appreciate detailed feedback, even when it’s not all positive. And, formal reviews are an opportunity to set new expectations and build a clear career path. A boss who never has time for performance reviews, or doesn’t know how to conduct them, will never be more than mediocre.

9. Communicates clearly and directly

Great bosses know how to make themselves understood. They know how to explain an assignment so employees can get going on it with confidence, and they know how to evaluate results so employees know exactly what they did well and what needs improvement. With a great boss, you always know where you stand; you’re never waiting for the other shoe to drop.

10. Is decisive

From the employee’s perspective, “yes” is exciting, “no” is disappointing, and “maybe” is intolerable. Nothing kills enthusiasm and productivity like a boss who can’t make up his mind, who dithers and fiddles while Rome burns. Great bosses make reasoned decisions, and make them as quickly as circumstances allow. This keeps the team motivated and perhaps more importantly, moving.

11. Takes responsibility

When great bosses make mistakes, they take ownership rather than lay off blame on subordinates. This not only goes a long way toward earning the respect and loyalty of subordinates, it sets an example and a high standard for everyone in the organization.

12. Will fire you without hesitation

As soon as great bosses conclude that an employee is a hopelessly bad fit, they proceed with the termination. Getting fired is bad, of course — but stagnating in an unfulfilling, dead-end job for years or decades is far worse. Great bosses don’t allow that to happen; instead, they make the tough decision that gives an employee a chance to find the right fit, to pursue the best possible career.

As this list demonstrates, being a standout boss isn’t easy. Notice that all of the 12 items stress interpersonal skills rather than technical proficiency. This is why promoting, for instance, star sales reps into sales managers usually backfires. Being great at doing something won’t necessarily make you great at helping others do it.

Have you ever had a boss with some or all of these qualities? What qualities can you add to my list of appealing boss behaviors?

And for the other side of the boss equation, here are my 12 Most Loathsome Boss Behaviors.

Featured image courtesy of Jeremiah Addy licensed via Creative Commons.

Brad Shorr

http://straightnorth.com

Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, a full service Internet marketing agency with headquarters in Chicago. A blogger since 2005, he writes frequently on social media, content marketing, SEO and business strategy.

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16 comments
Surajit Das
Surajit Das

Hi Brad, nice pointers. As we grow up the ladder we tend to talk / be more directive than to listen to our employees. Its a very hard balance being a leader who is consultative and takes joint decisions against those who would simply lead basis his past demonstration of being decisive and very often being right and thus getting the full endorsement from those who are being lead. Seldom the employees ends up challenging. My observation is that it is a cultural thing and thus one will have to adapt to this depending on which part of the world you are based.  I have come across employees who were more gravitated by the aura of the Boss rather than switching over a larger company. 

On the point of firing staff, my observation is that it is often because of not setting expectation clearly right from the beginning When a staff resigns, it points out the gap in the company and capacity of the Managers who were to lead them. When a staff resigns I actually reward them for highlighting the in-capacities / in-capabilities in the company. 

Arrowsmith99
Arrowsmith99

Nice Ronald. I bet that as a coach you also had enough experience to know where and when to guide. Also enough knowledge to avoid sports injuries. Sports are great, aren't they?

Ronald Osterloh
Ronald Osterloh

It's always nice to see these great discussions. As a coach, I liked to think my athletes would learn more from other sources than from me and I let them know that. They were given the opportunity to report back and teach us all the tricks they learned from any contacts they made. We all became better, not just as coaches and athletes, but as a team.

Arrowsmith99
Arrowsmith99

Unfortunately, most bosses confuse the "keep you on your toes" with micromanaging. Calling around can send the message of mistrust so customers start to suspect there is something going on. I believe that needs to be done with skill which many might not have. Then again they probably wouldn't be so great. I think that having the technical skills to know when the employee is off the deep end is necessary. At that point, the boss can check in and provide coaching feedback.

Zahrah Musa
Zahrah Musa

"As this list demonstrates, being a standout boss isn’t easy. Notice that all of the 12 items stress interpersonal skills rather than technical proficiency". 

Does this imply technically active people don't make good bosses? or perhaps that they should find  time to develope some interpersonal skills  so they learn how to be good bosses.

Insightful write up, shows us why there aren't many of these  'good bosses' around.

Pranta Das
Pranta Das

I would add one, which was perhaps covered sparsely in some of the other 12, but needs to be explicitly called out. "A great boss is one who praises his/her employee in public, when something good happens, and admonishes him/her in private, when something bad happens."

Lori Drienka
Lori Drienka

Very helpful information.  I would add that one very important part of being a great boss is setting a good example by 'walking your talk'. A great boss can inspire workers and maintain a strong, consistent presence by maintaining an optimum level of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.  This is very basic but often overlooked in the business world. 

Sivakumar S
Sivakumar S

Wow.. Well said ... These are great points to ponder..


Milaspage
Milaspage

All these points are right on Brad! Definitely a fantastic guideline for anyone leading people to follow. My personal favorite is the not hesitating to fire the person, it sounds rough, but when the person is not healthy for the organization, this quality becomes so important to protect the environment and culture of the company. thank you for this great post!

mphcoach
mphcoach

Love this and it's a pet torch I burn. I have a couple of minor - some might say 'picky' - points to add.

'Always has time to talk' isn't quite right. They can always make time to talk and also tell you when they can't. This builds respect and discretion into your awareness. A boss who will drop everything isn't setting a particularly good example. My door wasn't 'always' open. My people did, however, know when it was and that I would always get back to them when the time was best for both of us.

Oh yes - and it would also be 'makes time to 'listen', not talk'...

KimMingledorffStebbins
KimMingledorffStebbins

great bosses encourage creative "free zones"–a time and place for brainstorming, tossing around ideas, discussion–without being shot down or being made to feel like an idiot.

BradShorr
BradShorr

@Zahrah Musa Hi Zahrah, That's a great question. When I started writing this post, I was assuming that a boss would have whatever technical ability was needed to do the job -- sort of a given. However, there are bosses who don't have enough technical skill for the position, and that's bad. 

BradShorr
BradShorr

@Milaspage Thanks. Yeah ... there are people who are really unhappy in their jobs and for whatever reason just won't leave voluntarily. I've seen it a lot, and it's really sad when people in their 40s, 50s, 60s are just stuck. Good companies won't just throw somebody out on the street - they will provide career counseling, placement services, etc., as part of the package. 

BradShorr
BradShorr

@mphcoach Those are good points. Better to put off a conversation than to engage in one while distracted.

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