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girlfriday's avatar

What makes a great boss?

Asked by girlfriday (206points) July 3rd, 2007

I just hired three people (one who is a friend). I am excited and nervous. i would love to hear your thoughts on what you like about your big cheese, from interaction style to the nuts and bolts of creating an inspired work experience. thanks.

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10 Answers

figbash's avatar

I currently report to the best boss I've ever had and here's why:

1) He's funny. Really funny. He's in a serious, hardcore job (he's the COO) but never takes himself too seriously and has no need to pull power issues.

2) He gives me guidance and direction, while still treating me like an equal.

3) He solicits my feedback and opinion on serious issues, regardless of my position in the food chain.

4) He always recognizes contributions -and not in a cheesy-here's-something-to-hang-on-your-wall-way, but in the middle of meetings "Cristi had a great idea for this Cancer Center and...."

5) He gives me responsibilities that are slightly over my head so that I can "play up" - offers me support to get through them, and lets me take full credit for completing them. That boosts my self-confidence and skill level, and drives me to take on more, and do better work.

6) When we have our one-on-one meetings, he treats me like I'm the only employee he has, and does everything he can to boost my skills.

7) He gives me a lot of exposure- i.e. he drags me into meetings so that I can see what goes on there, and if I express an interest in something he's doing or a particular project, he drags me a long there too so I can see the inner workings.

8) I have a budget for "development" and he encourages me to pursue education constantly. It's not huge, but he has me constantly look at my current skill level, determine where I'd like to be - and then I prioritize which classes I should take to fill in the gaps.

9) He always lets me know how my work ties into the big picture. He gives me whole story about where our organization is going, then the background strategy behind it. This way, even if I'm doing some small project, I feel like it's important.

10) He's created an environment where people can ask questions without ever feeling stupid. He asks them himself - so this totally eliminates the intimidation factor.

These are just some of the positive things I have to say about his leadership style, and I know others feel the same way. He's been so good at leading people that he is now slated to become CEO within the next year. In my next position, I plan to oversee people myself, and he's been an excellent role model. Hope this helps!

schonfrau's avatar

My boss just bought me a bottle of Knob Creek yesterday for having a great month last month. He knows I appreciate that - bonuses don't get paid out until March.

Also, he allows me to work independently which is what we've talked about as the best way my strengths are utilized. Having strong communication lines and talking as often as possible about what you're enjoying/not enjoying about your position is key.

segdeha's avatar

I think it's a lot of work to be a great boss. Of course, the best ones make it look easy. Take a personal interest in your people so you can know what motivates them. On the topic of motivation, most people take a job in part because of the money, but day-to-day are motivated by other things. I know for me, it means a lot more to have my boss say something positive about my work to colleagues or clients, but only when it's merited. False praise is worse (IMO) than no praise.

mdy's avatar

@cristi -- what a wonderful write-up about your boss. You're very lucky to like who you work for!

@girlfriday -- may I suggest that you pick up a copy of "First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. I found it to be very eye-opening, and it has really influenced the way I work.

It's listed on Amazon where it has a 4.5 star rating from 230 customer reviews. Link is here:

occ's avatar

The best boss I ever had did a number of things that I found extremely helpful:
1)we would leave the office and have coffee meetngs once a month where he would spend most of his time listening, not talking. it was a great chance for me to discuss any problems I was having in the office, and being out of hte office setting made things more open. he would always have a positive outlook and help figure out ways to overcome those challenges. Making one-on-one time for each of your employees shows them that you value them.

2)he always thanked me and commended me on a job well done.

3)he never made me feel like I was burdening him when I asked him a question.

4)he communicated a vision for me. He would always show me how there was room for professional growth and the trajectory that he saw for my career in the organization, and beyond.

5) he took the time to learn waht personally motivated me, why I had chosen this field, and my background, so that he had a real sense of how to keep me motivated and inspired. People are driven by different things -- leadership, social impact, money, project completion, and everyone who likes their job likes it for different reasons. It's important to know what your employees enjoy so that you can make sure they have opportunities for fulfillment, especially if you are in a competitive field and your employees may be getting recruited by other jobs--you want to find ways to keep the best people happy so that they stick around.

One thing I wish he had done more of was prepare for our meetings. The boss I had before him was extraordinary in that she probably spent at least an hour prepping for each hour-long weekly meeting. She would alway come with a clear agenda of what she wanted to discuss and ask at the beginning if anyone else had items to add.

The other last tip I have is tthat if you have a weekly team check-in or planning meeting, always start with a round of "highlghts" ...going around the table and saying the best thing about the project you are working on, or the general work experience, from the last week. This helps inspire and motivate people, and diffuses some of the gossip and negativity that can permeate an office environment. It reminds people of why they are doing what they do, and I find that even when it takes 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting, it makes the whole meeting move at a faster pace and people leave feeling good about their work. It also ensures that everyone participates at least once, and no one feels like their voice is never heard at meetings. Also, when you (as the boss) hear peope's highlights, it will give you a better idea of what is working, what motivates them, etc.

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tammy444's avatar

a great boss is someone who would never ask you to do anything they would not do there self,someone who listens and will get right in there and help.after all its a team thing .
thats what makes good work places and good production records.

webmasterwilliam's avatar

If you really have a great boss, show them. Go to and create a report card that shows how really good they are. You can email that report card to them and others, either with your username or anonymously, so they can see exactly why you think they are so great. The site is about creating report cards for bosses across the USA.

jvgr's avatar


Mel's avatar

Great bosses work at being what they are. It takes time and commitment to develop the skills to be a leader. I saw some great free resources at if you want to be a great boss too.

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