What characteristics make a great boss?

There is no doubt that a good boss is a massive asset to a company, whatever level they are working at. Whether it is the chief executive, a middle manager or a line manager, good performance and the right approach can help get the best out of staff and ensure operations run smoothly.

Of course, the notion of ‘being good’ can be a vague one and often open to interpretation. Some, for example, might like a leader who takes charge, makes a firm decision and sticks to it, whereas others enjoy a more collaborative approach that welcomes a wide range of insights before deciding which way to go.

What is not in doubt is that the most successful leader will foster feelings of trust and close relationships in the workforce, for this brings loyalty and also means workers can have a confident expectation that their boss will not just treat them well, but help them to fulfil their own potential.

This was shown by a recent study by One4all Rewards in its UK management white paper. It revealed that honesty was the most highly valued quality in a boss, with 41 per cent listing this as the top attribute. Second was approachability, something listed by 35 per cent as the most important quality to have. Other popular characteristics include fairness (24 per cent), while 23 per cent valued good organisation.

Gender differences exist when it comes to what qualities employees like to see. For example, approachability is the biggest asset in a boss in the opinion of 44 per cent of female workers, while 45 per cent of male staff like honesty the most.

All these may sound reasonable enough, but it does not stop there. Specific individual qualities alone become most effective when they are used to help develop good working relationships, with a quarter of employees saying this factor would be a key element in them deciding to stay with an employer for five years or longer.

UK managing director at One4all rewards Alan Smith said: “A good leader inspires workers to want to work hard and has the kind of relationship that means if an employee is having a problem or is unhappy, they will feel comfortable approaching them to discuss it. Similarly, people also need to be able to place a degree of trust in their boss. Without trust and sincerity, feedback – both good and bad – is unlikely to be believed or taken seriously.”

Of course, it is unfortunately the case that not all bosses come up to the mark on these qualities, but the very fact they are mentioned means that they provide good guidance on what managers should aim for.

Whether that means building on best practice or correcting shortcomings, the insights the survey provides give some clear guidance on how managers can seek to steer their own career development in the right direction.

For those managers who can cultivate the skills that their staff will appreciate, the rewards in terms of good working relationships and increased loyalty are there to be had.


Posted by Simone Reid-Jones

Image courtesy of iStock/monkeybusinessimages

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