6 Qualities of a Great Boss

  1. Good boss
  2. Good work
  3. Good money

This month, I’m focusing on 6 qualities that contribute to the making of a good boss.

Professionalism
A professional boss is clear on responsibilities and accountabilities, exercises care and good judgment in all communication and, whilst acknowledging the company’s primacy, treats people with dignity and respect. Professional bosses are discrete and don’t gossip – they may hold themselves at a slight distance but never appear arrogant or remote. A professional boss is purposeful and competent, doesn’t waste time but ensures there is time for important conversations and connections with their team. A professional boss expects his or her direct reports to also be professional. 

Is Consistent
A consistent boss is no flim/flam – they don’t oscillate their behaviours between generosity and austerity, or high social to hermit, or inclusive to exclusive. They are considered about the decisions they make and aware of the impact those decisions have on the people around them. Their communication is thoughtful and constant. When there is a need for change, their messaging is credible and coherent (they are never guilty of sending mixed messages). Consistent bosses (ie consistent good bosses) are trustworthy and can be relied upon. A consistent boss likes their direct reports to also be consistent.

Has Clear/Reasonable Expectations
The direct reports of a good boss are clear on their role and the way it is to be done. Expectations around responsibilities, deliverables, communication and culture are clearly explained and modelled by the good boss. The good boss manages a reasonableness quotient, and is open to discussion if expectations need tweaking. The good boss does not expect 40-hours pay to cover 50-hours work. The good boss does not set false expectations by over-promising opportunities. The good boss does surprise you with a set of unreasonable tasks to complete, well beneath your pay-grade. Though, like everyone, like you, the good boss chips in to keep the office kitchen clean!

A good boss who sets clear/reasonable expectations likes their team to strive to meet these expectations, and also to keep them advised if achievement is in doubt.

Builds a Performance Management Culture
A good boss takes an active interest not only in what their direct reports are doing, but also in the way they are doing it. They are encouraging and supportive and ensure their team is adequately trained, skilled and resourced – whilst balancing the team’s need for independence and trust. Similarly if bad habits develop (whether this be in work practices or behaviour) a good boss intervenes quickly and facilitates changes. If required, a good boss will manage the person out of the business. A good boss expects his or her team to also hold them accountable for their performance.

Fair and Respectful
A good boss speaks to all members of the team respectfully, openly and honestly. It’s natural for connections to form; however a good boss never shows favouritism, never coerces, never undermines, never bullies. All direct reports have equal access to a good boss in all aspects of the role. A fair and respectful boss expects his or her team to show fair and respectful behaviour to them, and also to their colleagues and stakeholders.

Skilled Worker
All the previous qualities speak to the boss’ leadership and management skills, however an important dimension of the boss’ role is the way they do their own work. The team needs to be able to recognised that their boss is skilled and effective in the performance of their technical (non leadership) work.  This contributes to their perception of professionalism, but also sets the standard because the good boss is not only managing, but performing.

Next month, I’ll be talking about the components which make up ‘good work’.


Image: from Death to the Stock