Like any other professional who’s worked in different organizations, I have also had my fair share of bosses; both good and bad (I wish I could simplify it like how people stereotype the Taliban by asking, “Taliban are Taliban, what do you mean ‘Good’ Taliban and ‘Bad’ Taliban?”). So Yes, I do believe there are good bosses and bad bosses and based on the little professional experience I have gained so far, I can quite clearly highlight the attributes of a good boss and the reasons why generally all workplaces require at least one good boss around.
Here are a few:
The most important attribute a good boss can have is authenticity towards his/ her sub-ordinates. This may sting a few times but will keep everyone at the workplace at check and aware of their actual performance as opposed to a self-perceived performance; a reality check if I may call it. I know I’m starting to sound like every authentic feedback coming from a boss towards their sub-ordinates is negative but that’s not the case. An authentic feedback may and should equally be positive whenever required. What a good boss does however is to remain honest to him/herself also and make sure whatever feedback they give out to the sub-ordinate is for the betterment of both the sub-ordinate and the organization for which both of them are working. A good boss is NEVER biased (did you notice the word ‘never’ having all capital letters?)
If there’s anything as important as being authentic to your sub-ordinates, it’s ownership. In fact, it is ownership that drives everything else at a workplace. A good boss owns every little detail related to his area of supervision. From making sure that the quality of work remains excellent at all times till turning off the lights after work if anyone has left them on mistakenly; from ensuring that deadlines are met for all tasks till noticing dust on a sub-ordinate’s desk, good bosses have the quality of ownership in themselves and they practice it effortlessly and tirelessly all the time.
I DIDN’T want it myself, but it’s coming from the top
An important part of ownership displayed from a boss (in case of middle managers especially) is owning the decisions they make. Let’s not talk about what bad bosses do, but good bosses generally have the guts to face the reaction of what is apparently an unpopular decision at first and then explain the reasons behind taking the particular decision to their subordinates in an open and confident manner. Wait a minute, why would a good boss take decisions that are unpopular (even apparently)? Well, that’s why they are called ‘Good’ bosses. It’s easy to take and own decisions that are popular among masses, however taking bold decisions (especially ones that involve change) are difficult to take. And then bringing the whole team on the same page afterwards is also something that ain’t a walk in the park. A good boss never blames it on the higher/ top management. If he/ she doesn’t agree to the decision, they oppose it and defend their teams in front of the top management with all they’ve got but at the end of the day, they either come out convinced themselves or having convinced the top management.
All good bosses are very good listeners and open to suggestions and more importantly change. You can tell if he/ she is a good boss when they close the lid of their laptop and give you their full attention when you go up to them and talk. It doesn’t end at listening though, good bosses would implement suggestions/ take action immediately if something worth implementing is suggested to them even from a sub-ordinate.
Let me show you how
The part which is THE BEST in every good boss; he/ she knows how it’s done! At times comfort and at times embarrassment for the sub-ordinates, but it is largely comforting having this at the back of their minds that the boss knows the details of what is being done and also understands the complications and problems which may arise in a particular piece of work. A good boss also becomes a role model, mentor and teacher this way for their sub-ordinates.
You can do it! And don’t worry even if you can’t
Confidence is an important feeling to have, especially at work, and the best person to make sure you have that feeling in you is your boss. A good boss will push you to the limits but will also encourage you and give you the confidence that you can do it. Making mistakes is part of the game, but a good boss will make sure they make it clear to you that they understand that. Good bosses always give their sub-ordinates confidence to go through with a task and are also lenient to a reasonable extent.
Team dinner tonight!
A good boss will socialize with his/ her team and make sure informal team meetings become a source of burying hatchets between sub-ordinates who do not go along very well with each other. Socializing and taking out time for the team beyond working hours also motivates team members and helps them understand and come to the same wavelength with their superior.
Why haven’t you gone on vacations yet?
Believe it or not, a good boss would make sure his/ her sub-ordinates avail their vacations on time and they do not get horrified during vacations by seeing “Incoming Call: Boss” on their cell phone screens.
Instilling all good qualities in sub-ordinates
A good boss may have all of the qualities mentioned above, but the cherry on the cake is that the same kind of attitude and qualities become common in all team members/ sub-ordinates and this automatically results in great succession planning if continued for longer durations of time.
A good boss generally has relationships with his sub-ordinates that are beyond professional (in an inspiring manner). A good boss is a good friend, guide, philosopher and an honest critic.
Hammad A. Mateen