Blog Post

How to Be a Great Boss

Leigh Limpic

Strategic Engagement Consultant at Cornerstone OnDemand

All of us have heard the adage, people don’t leave companies, people leave bad bosses. Being a great leader can make the difference between creating a truly inspiring work environment and a merely tolerable one. When you ask people why they loved working for their best boss, the reasons flow pretty easily. We polled a few people recently and got their feedback on what makes a great boss.

  1. They’ve got a Vision. Great bosses know what they want to achieve and have a clear picture in their mind of the future.
  2. They Know their Stuff. Ever work for someone who awed you with their knowledge and insight? Great bosses are smart.
  3. They Get Things Done. It isn’t enough to know what to do, great bosses can make decisions, execute, and achieve top results.
  4. They’re Flexible. Great bosses stay focused on the goal at hand and are less concerned about the path getting there - giving you room to be creative.
  5. They’re Available. They may be in the next room or in another country, but great bosses are able to make you feel like a priority, no matter how busy they are.
  6. They Don’t Panic. When everything around them is going crazy, great bosses are the calm in the storm. They stay composed and don’t add to the chaos.
  7. They Ask Questions before Giving Answers. A great boss turns each interaction into an opportunity to help you grow. They force you to think and analyze. They don’t just rescue.
  8. They Listen. When they’re with you, great bosses are focused and present. They don’t allow distractions to take over. You are the priority.
  9. They Look For the Good. Great bosses remind us that most people have positive intentions and few situations are as dire as they feel. They’re not Pollyannaish, but they generally see the world as a friendly place.
  10. They Know You. Great bosses take the time to know you – your skills and experience, your interests, your preferences. They know what you like and don’t like and take that into account as you work together.
  11. They’re Honest, Sometimes Brutally So. Great bosses know how to tell you the truth and make you aware of your blind spots. But in the end, you know it’s because they genuinely believe in you.
  12. They Recognize Your Achievements. Great bosses take notice of what you do and acknowledge your results. They find ways to brag about you to the organization.
  13. They’ve Got Your Back. Great bosses don’t talk about their team in a negative way. They know how to protect your best interests and they support you when you’re not in the room.
  14. They Admit Mistakes. It’s never easy to say when you’re wrong – sometimes it’s hard to even see it. But great bosses are always learning and willing to admit when they could have made better choices.
  15. They’re Invested in Your Growth. Great bosses value you above a position or even the company. They are your cheerleader and focused on helping you move forward in your career. They provide projects, opportunities, and the chance to do more.

Even great bosses have room to grow. Ask yourself, ask your team, "What can I do to be a better boss today?"

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