The quality of managers can make or break a company. No matter how much money you spend on recruitment, good salaries, and good working conditions, if your manager turns out to be a nightmare, new promises run out just as quickly. A good manager, on the other hand, can ensure that talent performs even better and stays stuck longer, no matter how much the competition is pulling at them.
On this site I spend most of the content on bad bosses and advise how to handle them best. But what does a really good manager look like? And what percentage of managers qualify as good? In any case, here are the top ten signs of what is a good boss. And if you cannot find them? Then I can support and advise you to make a radical change in your life, right at the end. You will be surprised at how easy it will be.
How did they arrive at these qualifications for the best managers in the world? Some of the bigger companies did this with an extensive, yearlong study into the characteristics of good management. The most important conclusion of the research? Technical know-how, meaning knowledge of the work process and how to do it, turned out to be much less important for a manager than emotional intelligence.
Understanding own emotions
This means that managers should have the ability to understand, use, and manage their own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Kind of the characteristics of a people’s manager. Now it becomes easier to understand what a good boss looks like. A good boss possesses the following leadership qualities:
1. Makes work fun
I have heard one boss saying “if you’re not having fun at work, you’re in the wrong job.” How true!
Whether you are working a line in a factory, or at the reception area or selling hot dogs, there is always the opportunity to be a fun and productive place to work. Incorporating fun activities, events and organized play-time for employees gives them something to look forward to.
Things as simple as casual Friday or a lunchtime video game challenge can not only be fun – but also a great team-building exercise.
2. Sets clear performance expectations
The research concludes that employees experience increased stress levels when they don’t have a good understanding of what is expected of them. So, providing the employee with a very specific job description that lays out all expected tasks that include employee goals, will do the trick.
The boss should discuss and clarify these expectations through a one-on-one conversation so that there are no misunderstandings. As priorities change, they should continue to communicate updated expectations to provide the employee with an ongoing understanding of their role and job responsibilities.
3. Has a coaching style
A good boss does not solve the problems himself but turns them into learning moments for the entire team. The boss assists the team members in solving them themselves. He only points the team in the right direction. In this way they gain valuable experience and grow in their work.
The employees themselves are happy with the responsibilities given to them and know that when they go wrong somewhere, the boss will help them redirect. This will solve getting rid of unhealthy longtime pressure.
4. Does not engage in micro-management
No employee is waiting for a boss who constantly looks over their shoulder. A good manager does not do that. In fact, he – or she of course – gives employees the freedom they yearn for. The freedom to come up with your own ideas, to take (responsible) risks and to make mistakes. This boss also offers freedom in a practical way, by offering a flexible work schedule and a flexible working environment. The upside of this is that every staff member gains confidence and will go to work with a good feeling.
5. Ensures a good working atmosphere
From another study, we already knew that employees were most successful in a “psychologically safe” working environment. This means that they feel safe to take a risk among colleagues.
They must be sure that they are not punished or mocked if they make a mistake, ask a question or come up with a new idea. The manager’s job is to build this trust among team members. This will all contribute to the well-being of the employees.
6. Is productive and result-oriented
A good boss is not only a star in what he does but also makes his team members better. The boss motivates the team by setting a good example. This also means that where necessary the boss will help in getting the job done and not just sit idly by. If everyone is already full to the eyeballs, the boss will take some of the work in order to relieve his staff.
7. Communicates as the best
Communication is one of the best tools in human interaction, good communication is a must. Contrary to what many think, it is not only talking but also listening. You, the introverts know what I mean. The best managers can listen well. This way they understand their team and can act emphatically where necessary.
Knowledge is also power. A good boss deals with this transparently and is always willing to share information with the team so that employees understand the “why” behind what they have to do. If a manager can listen well, he or she will very quickly know, if his staff understood what is wanted from them. Misunderstandings will be minimal.
8. Supports career development and discusses performance
A good boss encourages people with sincere, focused compliments, but is also not afraid to express criticism. However, he does that tactfully and constructively. A good boss supports his staff in achieving personal career goals. The team will appreciate the effort he makes for this and payback in their work. Performance should be discussed at any time, when necessary and not one time at the end of the year.
This is the one that I have personally known for some 40 years, yet I have never experienced any of that kind of support. It would have been so nice to have had a career path laid out for you.
9. Has a clear vision for the team
There are many bosses who just want you to do your job, no questions asked. That is just a nuisance to them, they do not care any further.
A good boss knows exactly where the team is, where they need to go and what needs to happen to get there. Good communication helps keep the team on the right track. A good boss ensures that each team member understands his or her individual role in achieving this vision.
10. Can advise the team on work
I have seen new managers coming in and they immediately start directing their people in other ways, based on what these guys had experienced in a totally different working environment, different products, different customers. This will cause discomfort, distrust and an uneasy feeling: “Who is he to tell us what to do?”
A good boss understands the work of the team members, including their daily duties and challenges. If a supervisor is new to the department, he or she must take the time to understand the work and the working method, the process and to build trust. Only then can he or she give advice or make drastic changes.
11. Works in a team effectively
A bad manager can have his team compete with other teams or departments in the same company. Yes, this happens and can greatly distort the working environment and the output. A good boss, however, sees the big picture, is committed to the entire company and encourages team members to do the same. No two teams should be fighting over the same targets, a big waste of time and energy.
12. Stands by decisions
I have seen bosses come back to decisions made, usually without explanations, confusing everybody and leaving his employees in limbo: “Who knows he will change again?”
A good boss is not impulsive but dares to make a decision. He studies the facts and he will be mindful of the different views of the team members before deciding what course to take. He does this without delay – even if he has to make a decision that not everyone will agree with.
And essential: when a decision has been made he will stick to it. After all, he will keep seeing the important red line that he has to follow for the best results.
How many good bosses ate there?
It is shown that only one in ten people have the leadership capabilities as indicated above, that is 10% only dear reader! This is not to say that 90% are automatically bad, but they will fail at a good number of traits as mentioned. A good deal of the 90% could be trained to be a better manager, but the outcome might still not be ideal.
Lucky with a good boss
In other words, you can consider yourself very lucky when you happened to have the perfect boss, as chances are very small. If you have a boss, who is not ideal, but you can live with then you are ok too. But what if you have one of these bad bosses, who make your (working) life miserable? Then you can leave for another job, but you will run the risk of encountering another bad-ass. You take the best option and next to your work, you could start for yourself!
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2 thoughts on “Top 12 Signs of what is a Good boss”
Hi Jerry, thank you for an insightful article. I can certainly testify to all the points you mentioned there and fortunately for me I have had more good bosses than bad ones in the past. That said, I think another very important trait of a good boss is trust. In a way this is related to micro-management, but I have seen some bosses who do not trust the staff enough to do the work and therefore take over the work of the staff. And it’s not because the staff is not able to do a good job, it is just that the staff does it in a different way than the boss and some bosses just wants things done their way or their style. Thanks again for a great article.
You make a very good point as trust is a valuable asset in every relationship. All the more in the workplace where you have to rely on the team to get the best results. A manager who shows trust in his employees will empower them a lot.