Magazine article Work & Family Life

The 5 Qualities We're All Looking for in a Good Boss

Magazine article Work & Family Life

The 5 Qualities We're All Looking for in a Good Boss

Article excerpt

We've all had bosses we liked (or didn't), and many of us have also discovered that when it comes to being a really good boss, there's more to it than meets the eye.

At different times in our lives, we all have opportunities to be "the boss." It can be at work, at home or in our communities. And, clearly, our society needs leadership. But not all leaders are created equal, of course. Here are five characteristics of good bosses - and happily for us, they are not mutually exclusive. If you're lucky, you may get (or be) the whole package.

The listener. This boss appreciates hearing different points of view. Listeners respect other people's ideas, considerations and suggestions. They may not act on every idea, but they value the input.

Listeners also understand that people were hired for a reason. They trust employees and depend on them. What makes Listeners such good bosses is that they often have insights beyond their own experience and vision - insights that are influenced by many angles and perspectives. Listeners are aware that when employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and ideas, they are more likely to feel inspired and engaged.

The Empowerer. This boss allows workers to run their own show and lets them learn by making some mistakes. Empowerers build an atmosphere of trust and support, and they cultivate leadership in their work teams. After a team identifies tasks and creates a plan, the Empowerer lets members decide the nuts and bolts of how the work will actually get done.

Empowerers don't delegate aimlessly, however, or create a sense of subordination in their teams. Rather, they engage employees in a focused manner, from the ground up. Employees are inspired to take on leadership roles and collaborate, both with their boss and with others. As a boss, the Empowerer can simultaneously ignite productivity, personal development and satisfaction among her or his employees.

The Mentor. A teacher, a coach or a guide - this boss can be all three. The Mentor does not necessarily have to be an older person, but it helps if he or she is a tad wiser in a specific area or simply willing to share information. Mentors tend to understand and relate to employees' experiences, and they're good at identifying individuals who need or want mentoring.

The Mentor's relationship with an employee is constructive: in other words, both criticism and praise are offered for the purpose of seeing growth in the employee's set of skills. Mento rship, as an experience, can be offered or subtly developed over time. With either approach, the goal has both present and future applications. …

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