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How to be a good boss if you aren't one already

Updated on March 18, 2012

How to be a good boss?

Ideal boss, good boss are phrases that are rarely heard. It would seem as if good bosses are an extinct race. On the other hand, I wonder if all bosses are maligned by people who are averse to authority? If such is the adverse atmosphere in which a boss has to work, is it possible to be a good boss? What makes a boss a good boss? What do employees expect from a good boss? It is tough to be on top, it is somewhat lonely out there with all the employees below ganging up against you or bitching about you. Being a boss is not easy especially when your title has a negative connotation to it. It appears that a boss assesses his workforce once a year, while he/she is on trial each day of the year. How to be a good boss - when everything you do could be turned against you? I believe anyone can be a good boss and have a great relationship with his subordinates with a little understanding and fine-tuning of his soft skills.

Boss - Good Boss?
Boss - Good Boss? | Source

15 great tips to become a good boss

Be a boss, not a manager. A manager is one who just manages things around the place, but a boss is one who says ‘the buck stops here’ and takes full responsibility for his actions and those of the people who report to him. As a capable boss, take responsibility for the action of your subordinates because they work under your directions. If you come up with excuses that you are unaware of the action of your subordinates, you own up to the fact that you have no control or the authority that comes with this position. Being a boss also means that you lead and direct the team or the department in a goal-oriented manner.

Give credit where it is due. One of the major complaints against bosses is that he/she takes credit for the ideas and work of his/her team members. A good boss not only gives credit where it is due but also uses this opportunity to motivate others to perform well. Be quick to praise and slow to upbraid. Be ready to give people the benefit of doubt, and believe that things could go out of control, despite their best attempts, even for his employees.

Mentor people. A good boss not only uses his authority to command and get work done out of people or to enforce discipline but uses his position, standing and power to mentor juniors and develop their skills. Mentoring is a great way of keeping abreast of the latest changes in the field. It is not doing someone a favour. As a boss you could be caught up in the day to day affairs of managing, it is possible to have lost touch with what is happening, the latest technology and the latest developments in the field. Mentoring is the best way to get hands on and be the best boss around. Mentoring is a great way of grooming people for future responsibilities.

Get into the finer details. Just giving the orders won’t do. Getting your hands dirty and getting into the nitty-gritty sends a clear message to your team that you are perfectly capable of doing what you expect them to do. It stops people from fooling around and giving you below par work.

Lead by example. When you lead by example, people know that they will be judged by the same standards. Leading by example helps others to learn some of the important skills from you, especially in the area of man management. Be a person of integrity and stand up for your values. This sets the standards for the whole department and the lines become very clear and distinct. Your employees know what to expect from you. This way, you always inspire respect and admiration from your team. This would take you a long way in becoming a good boss.

Don’t blame people. Blaming has never been known to have solved any problem. Help people to find a way out of their messes. Train them to think creatively and find ways of working through their problems. A good boss shows his people that it is okay to make mistakes but it is more important to learn from them. This will ensure that you have an efficient team of people who are pro-active and innovative.

Delegate. It is very important to delegate work to people and clearly assign them responsibilities. When you delegate work, also ensure that you delegate authority to them. Most bosses delegate work, but keep the authority with themselves and interfere with the tasks of their sub-ordinates. Delegation is the best way to groom people for higher responsibilities. Being a good boss is letting people take up responsibilities and prove themselves.

Define roles and responsibilities clearly. Set specific goals and clearly outline your expectations. Very often, problems arise at work because roles, responsibilities, goals and expectations are never clearly defined, clarified and/or communicated. When people have to assume and presume things, especially in these areas, they get into problems with their peers and their boss. Team members also tend to get de-motivated as they lack direction and their efforts seem to go to waste. A good boss ties up all these things together.

Be fair in your dealings. This is an important way in which you can be a good boss, when you are fair in your dealings with the whole team. Transparency in dealings and fairness in the rewarding and punishment systems sends out clear messages to everyone. Being a good boss is also being a neutral player in the team.

Be a team person. A good boss always has the organisational goals, team goals and personal goals of the team members in focus. All your actions and decisions need to be geared toward the betterment of organisation, team and the individuals in his group. Be the link that binds your team together, always encourage team work and discourage tattle tales. Being a good or a bad boss depends heavily upon how effectively you make use of your conflict resolution skills.

Be aware.
Be aware of what is happening in your jurisdiction. A bad boss is the last to know of any problems that arise at the workplace. This helps you to be proactive and take charge of situations. A good boss has his/her own grape wine, but relies on good judgement before accepting any information.

Motivate and bring out the best in your people.
A good boss always inspires and motivates his people to give their best. The time spent in motivating people is often time well spent, as it adds to your success.

Recognize that you need your team as much as they need you. Your power and authority comes from the people whom you manage. You need them because all your work and accomplishment is based on their performance.

A good boss does not feel threatened by the skills of his sub-ordinates. He should be able to see his teams skills as complimenting his own and not as competition. A bad boss is in competition with his own employees, which means bad news for his team and team collaboration.

Treating everyone with respect and not letting power go to your head is a very important quality of a good boss or manager. Power that you have, comes because of your subordinates. It is good to keep a professional relationship, but it is more important to be a person / a human whom your team can relate to. Using humour to have an easy relationship could help. Managing relationship is the best part of being the good boss.

To be a good boss you just have to be human enough while still being a boss. Being a good boss is never a hard task, you simply need to fine tune your skills and blend in with your team. Here is to being the best boss ever.


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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Old albion, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Lol I do appreciate your take on the junior/line manager... Have a lovely day. God Bless!

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Absolutely spot on. This is exactly how a boss should operate. A good boss and usually a business owner might well work in this manner, but not always of course. What one has to be wary of is the junior manager or line manager who is trying to climb the greasy pole. My compliments. voted up.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Pandula, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment. I appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to share the link with others. Have a beautiful day.

    • pandula77 profile image

      Dr Pandula 

      6 years ago from Norway

      Hey, what a wonderful hub and I definitely will take some of these advice. I also will send the link to some of my earlier bosses to get some insight :) thanks. voted up.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Ruby, You must have been a great boss to work with.. I have had a boss who taught the housekeeping staff how to wash dishes. He was the CEO of the company. The man inspired us and drove us on purely by example. It was such a joy to work with him. He is the one I had in mind when I wrote this. Have a great day. Love - Sophie

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great article Sophie. When i was a charge nurse, i wouldn't ask anyone to do something that i wouldn't help with. I have worked with nurses who wouldn't get their hands dirty. Thank you..Helpful tips on being a good boss...

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Jlava73, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate that very much. Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      AEvans, thanks for that insightful comment. Respect and clear communication are key to any relationship. Thanks for the comment and votes. Have a lovely day. God bless.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Paradise7, LOl that is a cute comment :) Let us hope so.. i am with you on that :) Thanks for cheering me up. I needed that and appreciate that very much. Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Debbie, Respect is key to any human interaction. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate that greatly. Have a nice day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Magdelene, That is a name I love :) Thanks for the endorsement. Thank you for stopping by and the comment. I appreciate that very much. Have a lovely day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from From the land of wonders

      Denise, that is a sad commentary on the bosses you worked for. I have had the opportunity to work for wonderful bosses who were also my mentors and great human beings. I have had the bad bosses too. Thank you for stopping by and encouraging me on. I appreciate that very much. Have a lovely day.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      6 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Great Article! It seems that in order for someone to be a great Boss - they have to be a great person.

    • AEvans profile image


      6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Before our Country collapsed, I was a boss to over 500 employees. This is list should be a a tool for all of those who are leading. Some of them forget who they are and where they came from. Respect is earned and you do not have to be a Tyrant to get things accomplished. If you do not clearly define roles and responsibilities your team will fall apart at the seams. Voted up and shared!

    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Every boss in the world capable of neutral self-assessment (all three of them) should read this twice daily!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 

      6 years ago from Greece

      I hope there are lots of bosses reading this hub!! The advice you've given is excellent. Respect earns respect and if a boss follows just a few of your suggestions then they will be on track for becoming a great boss with workers who will respect him or her, creating a happier and more productive workplace.

      Voted up and shared.

    • Magdelene profile image


      6 years ago from Okotoks

      Excellent. There are quite a few bosses that should take notice of this article. It's a sad state of affairs in many places of employment.

      Respect is ideal and especially not letting power go to your heard. I've seen so many negative cases of this, along with extreme favoritism.

      Well done Hub SOFS, thumbs up!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! What a great list of criteria for bosses to follow. I especially liked the: a boss isn't a manager-wonderful discernment there. I also liked: be a mentor. I have NOT come across any boss that I've worked for in the hospital system who has mentored thoe nurses. Sad, isn't it? Bottom line: a boss should be a fair and trustworthy leader. Voted up and interesting/useful.


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