6 Characteristics of a Great Boss

by Andrew Ysasi, MS

Tell me something good! One of my good friends says this all the time. I thought I would take a spin-off on his comment and relate it to work, specifically bosses.

I see many popups regarding practices of a boss bad, or people leave bosses not jobs, and is your boss just bad or a tyrant?. I am not saying these articles do not have their place. I think we need to shine the light on bosses who do well. So, below are my six signs you can tell a great boss from a not so great boss. If you are thinking, “Oh my, Andrew is writing about himself again,” I assure you that is not the case, for I have areas that I need to improve.

  1. Listening. How many times have we seen the phrase, don’t listen to respond, but listen to understand? Easier said than done. With all the distractions around us, cell phones, chimes from emails, ringing phones, and other distractions it is hard to stop and focus on what a person is saying. Remembering first that a person is talking to you and you need to focus on them is big. Great bosses who do not understand what they hear end up asking for clarification and even ask questions to help you find your answer.
  2. Validation. Another item that is difficult to achieve. Regardless of whether your boss agrees or disagrees, do they validate your feelings? Therapists often state that having a good relationship requires much validation. If your boss is not good at validating, try validating them. For example, if they come to you frustrated with something, whether it is your fault or someone else, acknowledge the issue verbally. Simple ways to validate someone after your boss complains to you is, “that sounds hard, and you have a right to be frustrated.”
  3. Does your boss encourage you to learn? Whether it is a new process, task, certification, facts, stats, or even going back to school. There are many ways a boss can help you in the learning process. A company who invests in their employee’s ability to learn new skills is admirable, and even more so if your boss budgets for ongoing education.
  4. Learning. People make mistakes. Bosses are people. Therefore, bosses will make mistakes. Some mistakes appear intentional, and others are not. Great bosses take in as many facts as they can, in the timeframe provided to them, and make a decision. If the decision is not popular, they explain how the decision is best for the organization. If you have evidence to show their decision is wrong, hopefully, they follow the first three tips!
  5. Value. A great boss ensures you are getting the right pay for the job or tasks and tells you how you can make more. Whether more is money, vacation, time off, responsibility, promotion, or other compensation a great boss sees the value in ensuring you are getting what you are worth. When employees feel appreciated, they should give you great work in return.
  6. Communication. We are not all professional communicators. Even though we can text, post, blog, an email like never before why is it we get still get confused? Do not get me started on the use of emoji’s at work! Confusion is all around us despite the many ways to communicate. A good boss can quickly wade through the muck and present a clear picture. If you oversee people, I cannot stress enough the importance of communicating clearly and often. Not every communication is perfect, and sometimes a written message will be ambiguous. Mix in a few other people, and lines of communication are bound to cross and get mixed up. A great boss will clear up the confusion, and work hard to ensure that the team is not operating on wrong or misinformation.

Honorable mentions are Positivity and Freedom. Did I miss anything? Do you have great boss stories? Let’s hear them!


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