How to be a good boss – are you a good boss or a bad boss?

Sounds a little bit like the Wizard of Oz, we know.  Similar to that classic story – what type of boss you are can determine if your people respond to you more like Munchkins or Monkey Soldiers. While writing this article I found something interesting while in researching this topic, and it made me raise an eyebrow.  How to be a boss generates roughly 20 million monthly global hits – yet how to be a good boss generates only 33,000 monthly global hits.

A good boss makes his men realize they have more ability than they think they have so that they consistently do better work than they thought they could. – Charles Erwin Wilson

So why is that?

  • I realize it is probably because of many different factors – however I was intrigued that people are not more interested in how to be a good or even great boss. Is mediocrity taking over? Perhaps the reason is people are more focused on searching for the topic based more on the particular role than they are from the perspective of how to excel in that given role. Or maybe it’s because of the uptick in entrepreneurship. Regardless, building a successful business requires more than being a boss, it requires being a good boss – one who can create followership, build trust and maintain engagement.

So what makes a good boss or a bad boss?

High level –  here are a few qualities that make a good boss and a bad boss.

Good Boss

Bad Boss

  • Vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Transparency
  • Secrecy
  • Inspiration
  • Pessimism
  • Authenticity
  • Disingenuous
  • Honesty
  • Dishonesty
  • Trust
  • Mistrust
  • Socialized power
  • Personalized power
  • Values equality
  • Practices oppression
  • Recognition for a job well done
  • Ignoring a job well done
  • Helps other succeed
  • Only helps themselves succeed

So how do you become a good boss?

Short answer – develop and excel in the “good boss” qualities listed above – you can get started in 3 steps.

Feedback: The first step in being a good boss is feedback – soliciting input from those you lead regarding your actions and behaviors and how those behaviors positively and negatively impact them.

Awareness: The next step in being a good boss is having self awareness – taking the feedback on those actions and behaviors that may negatively impact those you lead and making a conscious effort to be aware of when they are occurring and why.

Action: The third step in being a good boss is action – take action to increase your positive behaviors and decrease those with a potential negative impact. Training, coaching, and mentoring are all great ways to increase and develop new skills that can have a positive impact on those you lead.

When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

Here’s hoping that most of you desire to be good – even great – bosses!  So what qualities or strategies do you think make the difference between a boss, and a good boss?

About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm.  He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 

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