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How to be a good boss in the eyes of subordinates

Updated on November 14, 2010
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer. Backed by 3 decades of industrial experience, he writes on several aspects of business, management and HR.


"Becoming a boss can be on account of winning the trust of higher management, but being a good boss needs trust and co-operation from subordinates" - Najaradarav.

Being a good boss is really simple. He who wants to become one, has to think of all those managers and supervisors under whom he has worked in the past and list out which qualities they were woefully lacking. When he becomes a boss himself, he has to implement all those qualities in his managerial style. At the same time, he should not forget to follow the good managerial practices that the bosses followed too.

Here are some guidelines on how to be a good boss:

Be Task Oriented and Not Personality Oriented

An ideal boss defines the work to be done, specifies the boundaries of freedom to act, indicates the areas where the subordinates should consult him, explain the goals and targets to be met and offers his help and support in attaining the goals.

He must be task-oriented and his judgment of his subordinates shall be based on their performance as well as their capability to work amicably in a team. A good boss shall not reward or discipline a subordinate based purely on his subjective likes and dislikes in the personality of his subordinate or on his own personal whims and fancies.

In other words, the manager's assessment of subordinates shall not be clouded by how the subordinate overtly "displays" respect to him, how he tries to satisfy the boss on personal equation rather than work performance or how he boosts the ego of the boss by being an unquestioning yes-man to whatever he dictates.

Display a Fair Degree of Humane Qualities

Being task-oriented need not mean that the boss should be heartless. Bad bosses frequently forget that those who work under them have a family to take care of, have physical bodies that can get sick, can have interests and passions to pursue after office hours and are given holidays to relax and rejuvenate. A good boss truly gives appropriate consideration to the human needs of his subordinates.

A good boss will not ask the subordinate to cut short his honeymoon citing the importance of office tasks. He will not force his subordinate to attend to pending tasks on weekends and holidays (unless the subordinate voluntarily offers his service). He should not intentionally schedule training programs for the subordinates at weekends and holidays.

Possess a Fair Degree of Knowledge On the Subject Matter

A good boss must carry with him some proven skills, expertise or knowledge, if not fully in his current area of responsibility (if he happens to be new to the current managerial position), at least in areas where he was operating earlier. He must be shrewd enough to grasp the basics, know where to seek help and rely on persons who know better.

In other words, when a subordinate comes to the boss with a problem, he should not go back disgusted, with a suspicion or conviction that the boss is too naive on the subject matter. Accepting one's lack of knowledge and making a promise to get suitable guidelines by consulting appropriate sources is far better than hiding ignorance and misguiding the subordinates.

Give Freedom in Proportion to the Responsibility Given

When a boss wants his subordinates to use their knowledge, skills and authority to produce results, he should naturally allow them to take decisions within their limits without consulting him on every minor issue. He should give them the financial freedom appropriate to the their levels. A good boss has to display trust on his subordinates and intervene when something contrary to the trust or contrary to the expected results occur.

Such a mindset requires extraordinary will power and a high degree of sense of responsibility. When something goes wrong, he should be willing to take up responsibility for the outcome.

Give Credit Where it is Due

An effective manager exposes a truly good and efficient subordinate to the higher echelons of management to ensure that his contribution is recognized and duly rewarded. This he does in the corporate meetings by openly acknowledging any specific and outstanding contribution of the subordinate. A good boss, by virtue of being the leader, should not take all the credits to himself for his team's performance. Annual performance appraisals should truly reflect the contributions and failings of each subordinate.

Don't be a Parasite in the Organization

Any boss, who is known to pocket commissions from suppliers, who enjoys special privileges from those who are affected by his power and influence, misuses office machinery and personnel to meet his personal needs, fraudulently siphons off money by manipulating his perks and privileges or intimidates the opposite sex can never get respect from his subordinates, however outstanding he may be in his job.

Value Time

A good boss values his time as well as his subordinates' time. There are some tasks where the time of the subordinates may be more valuable than the boss'. A good boss does not while away his time by conducting unnecessary meetings. He does not invite a busy subordinate to his cabin for a review and then keep him waiting indefinitely while he is busy attending phone calls.

A truly professional manager does not keep hopping from one colleague's cabin to another to discuss office politics and to kill his idle time. He keeps him busy with work, plans or effective communication to be done by him appropriate to his level and responsibility that he is not expected to delegate.

Be a Good “Assistant”

This may surprise many, but a good boss is really a good “assistant” to his subordinates; when the subordinate needs help in some area beyond his reach, the boss offers help. When the subordinate lacks knowledge, the boss assists him by educating him. Thus the boss functions as a dependable assistant to his subordinates in areas where the subordinates can't handle things all alone.

To sum up, a good boss is one who is task oriented with a human face, is knowledgeable in his area of responsibility and displays professionalism, honesty and commitment in his job.


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    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 7 years ago from Kerala, India

      Thank you Hello Hello!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A brilliantly desciption of what a boss SHOULD be but most of them are half of waht they should be. Thank you for an enjoyable read.