Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
Dr Peter Kitonyo; Manager, Assistant Manager, Resolution

Who fits the bill of a good leader; a good boss?

I belong to the school of thought that leadership is action...not position. Being a good leader is integral to an organization’s success and indeed tied closely to performance of employees.

In order to understand what makes a “good” boss, we should strive to examine some of the traits of a “bad” boss. In a survey of 1,000 executives conducted by the Lee Group, 65 percent said they would choose to have a better boss over a higher salary. In another survey conducted in 2018, the Predictive Index People Management Study asked 5,000 employees to identify qualities of a bad leader. They identified poor communication, playing favorites, failure to show concern for employees’ career and personal development, badmouthing people behind their backs, not open or interested in feedback, wants to prove him or herself right, not self-aware, betrays trust, does not listen and puts his or her needs first, as some of the hallmarks of a bad boss. Further, some of the top words used to describe a bad boss in the survey included dishonest, arrogant, lazy, reactive, disengaged, inconsistent and rude. Many surveys concludes that employees are happier and perform better if they have a supportive management team. So, what are some of the qualities that make a great boss:

Communicates organizational vision clearly: Majority of employees come to work and want to make a difference and do a good job. It has been proven that bosses who communicate the organization’s vision, mission and strategic goals clearly to their staff are likely to find their workforce to become more engaged and productive. This gets employees involved and interested in assisting the company achieve its goals.

Sets performance expectations: Research has suggested that employees experience raised levels of stress when they fail to have a good understanding of what is expected of them. Bosses should set clear performance expectations by providing specific job descriptions that lay out expected tasks and include employee goals.

Accords feedback: It is not obvious that employees would realize when they are not meeting job requirements. It is therefore the responsibility of the manager to coach and develop them. Giving employees feedback along the way aids establish a good working relationship as it cultivates a sense of conversation, of cooperation, and of leadership.

Is supportive: It goes without saying that no-one wants to work with a difficult or uncaring manager. A good boss is one who is helpful, kind, compassionate and caring without being a push-over. The manager should be confident enough to show their human side. Employees who work for supportive bosses are more likely to be happier, less stressed and have higher work output.

Recognizes employee efforts and achievements: A good boss should always find an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the good work done by employees. This may take a variety of forms, including a certificate, an award, luncheon or email, and a praise in the public.

Shares credit with staff: A common finding in many job satisfaction surveys is that employees dislike of their boss when he or she takes all the credit for an accomplishment. Indeed, one of the most demoralizing things a manager can do is either ignore or forget to acknowledge the input, contributions and work of others. It uplifts the spirits of the team members when a boss publicly points out the good work and individual contributions that employees have conducted in making a specific project a success. It also strengthens collaboration and trust among the team.

Gets to know his or her employees: A great boss takes a personal interest in the lives of his or her employees. Employees feel valued when the boss shows an interest in their hobbies, family, and other interests outside of work.

Is available for his or her employees: Open-door policies are the best policies in workplaces. Where such policies work well, employees feel comfortable approaching their boss with questions or concerns. An approachable boss is likely to be trusted more by employees, which in turn creates a culture of high morale and performance.

Is decisive: The inability to make a decision or taking too long before making a decision is a trait of a poor boss. Good bosses are decisive and do not get caught up in analysis paralysis. It is important to remember that how a decision is made is often more important than the decision itself. Leaders who make decisions with speed and conviction might not always get things right, but are likely to be able to keep their organization moving forward. A wrong decision can be fixed, but indecisiveness will damage the organization and reputation beyond repair.

In conclusion, if one is in management or desire to be, understanding the impact he or she will have on their employees is an important part of having a leadership role.

Dr Peter Kitonyo; Manager, Assistant Manager, Resolution