15 behaviours of a great boss

Authored by Bernard Marr.
4 min read
Two architects looking at plans and a model for an office building
Hey, being the boss isn’t easy. But, there are things you can do to elevate your performance in the eyes of your employees, according to our business expert Bernard Marr.

Guess what? Nearly 60-70% of employees (external link) are not working as hard as they could be.

That’s not because they’re lazy or bad people. It’s because of the boss. In one survey (external link), a third of respondents said they’d quit their jobs because of a bad manager.

Here are 15 characteristics of great bosses.

1. Great bosses communicate consistently

If you master communication, many of your other shortcomings will be forgiven. You must inform and connect with your employees. You must set clear goals and expectations.

When you keep your team updated and informed about processes, status and, yes, even bad news, they are more apt to be an integral part of your team and a high performer.

2. Great bosses delegate (but are always there with support when needed)

One of the biggest complaints about bosses is that they micromanage. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Do check in with your employees to see what support you can give them to achieve their goals. But, give your employees the space to do it their way.

3. Great bosses challenge their employees

Don’t let your employees become complacent. Since employees are human, they naturally need to be coaxed out of their comfort zones from time to time. Believe me, they will thank you. Challenges are better than boredom.

4. Great bosses know what’s important to their employees

Do you know what each of your employees values outside of work? If not, find out as quick as you can. When you recognise and allow your employees the time and support to do what’s most important to them outside of work, they are grateful.

5. Great bosses look for solutions, not blame

When you run a business or department, things will not always go as planned. Great bosses stay focused on finding solutions to problems rather than spending time in the blame game.

6. Great bosses are fair (and don’t play favourites)

Do you have the same rules for every employee? Nothing kills employee morale faster than seeing the boss play favourites.

People need to see that they have a fair shot at advancing and contributing to stay motivated.

7. Great bosses give feedback (and constructive criticism)

Most employees, or at least the ones you want on your team, value feedback so they can learn and grow. They know they are far from perfect and want to hear from you how they can improve.

8. Great bosses ask their employees for their thoughts

Employees want to contribute. They want you to hear their ideas and suggestions. Make no mistake, they understand you are the one who must make the final decision, but they feel respected when you ask for their opinion.

9. Great bosses are authentic

They genuinely care. They don’t just ask about your weekend, because they learned in some 'How to Be a Great Manager' seminar. It’s one of the things that should be on their weekly to-do list. Great bosses don’t have hidden agendas.

10. Great bosses understand one size does not fit all

Great bosses are adept at respecting their employees’ communication preferences and working styles. They do what they can to be flexible to allow you to shine.

11. Great bosses listen

When an employee comes to you to share an idea or ask for something, just LISTEN.

12. Great bosses laugh

Work hard and play hard, and don’t forget that you can have a sense of humour and poke fun at yourself. Self-deprecating humour is very powerful.

13. Great bosses recognise hard work

Don’t underestimate a pat on the back or a hearty, “Thank you!” for a job well done. Employees like to be acknowledged for their hard work.

14. Great bosses recognise increased responsibilities should be compensated

There’s nothing more counterproductive than to overwork your employees. If you add responsibilities to a talented employee’s workload, be sure it is accompanied by a pay rise or title change.

15. Great bosses invest in their people

Help your employees become even better professionals by running training sessions. Invest your time to help them with professional development and career goal planning.

Nobody ever promised it would be easy at the top. Just as you expect your employees to keep growing and becoming better, challenge yourself to go from good to great by practising these 15 behaviours of a great boss.

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At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.

Bernard Marr

Keynote speaker and strategic advisor to companies and governments. Bernard is one of the world's most highly respected voices when it comes to data in business; LinkedIn have ranked him as one of the world's Top 5 Business Influencers. Marr is also the founder and CEO of Bernard Marr & Co, an independent think tank and consultancy organisation.