Be a Great Boss

Nearly everyone who has people working for them wants to be a great boss. What does that mean in practice?

First Some Qualifiers

Notice above that I said “great” and not good. The reason for that is that there are a lot of good bosses, and they may think they’re great. However, the reality is very few really rise to the level of great. Second, notice I also said “nearly everyone”. Again, that was for a reason, that being that I have known some people who really didn’t seem to care whether they were a great or even good boss. They just wanted people to jump when they said jump. With that out of the way let’s first look at some traits of not so great bosses.

Not So Great Bosses

Have you ever worked for a screamer? If you have you’ll never forget it. They are often the ones who think they always know what’s best. I think of them as the mad boss.

mad boss

This is also the boss who has the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway”.

Another not so great boss is the micro-manager. They treat employees as if they are totally incompetent and have to be told how to do everything. That’s a guarantee that those working for them will not grow.

micromanagerAnother example of a bad boss is the negative thinker. You know the type; the kind of boss who trashes every idea of others and seeks only to point out any downsides while ignoring the positives of an employee’s idea.

negative thinker

Then, rounding up the top four in my book is the dishonest boss; the liar. In fact, this really should be number one because of the distrust, frustration, and insecurity it creates for employees. You probably don’t relish the idea of working for someone that you doubt is being honest with you and others.


There are of course other traits that would put someone in the bad or even terrible boss category, but these four I have seen occur frequently in my time as both an employee or a Part-time CFO or Controller.

None of these had any idea what it really meant to be a great boss.

The Opposite-The Great Boss

Contrary to the bad boss who is angry, micromanaging, negative, dishonest or all of these traits, the great boss is calm when dealing with others, lets others grow, encourages them to have new ideas, and above all is honest. I’ve had or observed several excellent bosses over the years, with my all-time favorite being a man who passed away a few years ago. He had about the highest integrity of anyone with whom I’ve worked, would let people passionately argue their position with no lingering hard feelings afterward, and did his best to make sure everyone felt they were a valued part of the company. I remember shortly after I went to work for him managing the accounting and operations areas that we were discussing when to pay some vendors. He surprised me when he said he wanted to try to pay a little earlier than the due date if possible. Until then I was always used to bosses who seemed to want to delay payments as long as possible. But, he was different. He wanted the vendors to know we valued them, he wanted to maintain an excellent credit standing for the company, and he realized that by doing the first two he also made it more likely that the vendors would work with him in the future in the event that we needed extra credit or a little longer to pay due to increased business. His ethics, integrity, and willingness to engage his employees forever had an influence on me.

Perhaps you have memories of a boss who made you feel like you mattered; no, really mattered. These are the ones that understand what it means to be a great boss and earn the respect of all they encounter.

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As always, your comments are welcomed.


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