18 Unmistakable Traits All Good Bosses Have

Discover the key traits that transform ordinary managers into extraordinary leaders.

company boss give helpful information
Updated May 28, 2024
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You may feel nervous in the hot seat when you're across the table from the hiring team in an interview. But truth be told, you should be vetting your potential boss as much as they're vetting you.

The person you work for can make or break a job, so it's important to get to know them as much as possible before you sign an employment contract. Ideally, you want to grow your career, not just grow your wealth.

Not sure what to look for in a great boss? Here are a few attributes stellar leaders possess.

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Get buy-in for their vision

insta_photos/Adobe hiring and employment concept

Great bosses know that they can't achieve their goals alone. But rather than driving the bus and dragging everyone along, they give people a vision of where the company is going and show their employees how they can be part of the dream. 

They're also not afraid to delegate key responsibilities to others to get the job done better.

Communicate their expectations

Rido/Adobe executive helping new employee

A good supervisor communicates clearly and concisely and provides all the resources needed for success.

As a staff member, you're not guessing about what needs to be done or how to do it because your employer has shown you what great work looks like and how to do it.

Trust their subordinates

Pormezz/Adobe the boss encourages the staff

Nobody likes a micromanager, and working for one can be demoralizing and frustrating. A fabulous boss trusts their employees to get the job done, then gets out of their way.

A great boss will resist the urge to micromanage and will focus on the results, not the methods, of achieving them.

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Follow up

fizkes/Adobe coach talking with group

Effective leaders don't micromanage, but they don't leave their employees adrift without guidance. 

They balance autonomy and supervision, giving their staff the latitude to perform tasks effectively while still following up to ensure the work is done correctly. They also offer advice or help when needed.

Develop their employee’s skills

insta_photos/Adobe company team working together

Great bosses help their employees grow. They give them projects and assignments that are within their capabilities but outside their comfort zones so that the employees can stretch and acquire new skills.

Go to bat for their employees

Jacob Lund/Adobe business professionals having a meeting

Exceptional leaders advocate for you and even defend you when necessary. They do this by advocating for raises or promotions, shielding you from unfounded blame, extolling your achievements, and standing up for your interests.

Respect your time

fizkes/Adobe business ideas with colleagues

Outstanding managers don't drag out meetings or demand that you stay after hours unless it's an emergency. They respect the other demands on your time by being punctual, sticking to an agenda during meetings, and limiting interruptions during your workday.

Criticize calmly and privately

Yuliia/Adobe giving business advice at office

Constructive criticism is necessary in the workplace, and great bosses don't shy away from this. They also realize that employees are human, and accepting correction is difficult for most people.

With this in mind, exceptional supervisors are calm and collected when they have to chastise or correct subordinates, and they do so privately to avoid embarrassment.

Lavish in their praise

Prostock-studio/Adobe businesswoman holding digital tablet

Quality managers don't hold back when praising employees' efforts; they do so publicly when appropriate. 

They understand that employees need constructive criticism, but they also need recognition when they're crushing it so they can continue to do so.

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Express appreciation

Pormezz/Adobe to do a very good job

Yes, we all have to show up at work and do our jobs. But fantastic managers know the morale boost that a little appreciation can give to their teams. Great bosses say thank you, even for tasks that are expected and mundane.

Stick to their decisions

bnenin/Adobe handshake with a female doctor

Great leaders aren't wishy-washy, leaving their staff to guess the plan. They carefully consider decisions with the input of all involved. 

Then, they make confident decisions and stick to them. If they have to pivot later, they inform everyone of the change.

Show empathy

pressmaster/Adobe supportive man consoling his friend

If your boss is worth their salt, they realize that you're not a cog or a robot; you're a human with a family and obligations outside of the office.

So when you get sick or there's a family emergency, an understanding boss will do their best to make accommodations without guilt-tripping you for taking the needed time off.

Responsible for their mistakes (and the team’s)

dikushin/Adobe Boss talking to employees

The best bosses take responsibility for their actions, whether successes or failures. As team captain, they also hold themselves accountable for the team's mistakes. They don't seek to pass the blame to others, even when it might be deserved.

Don’t take themselves too seriously

auremar/Adobe boss and worker checking results

Who wants to work for someone without a sense of humor? The best supervisors don't get a power trip from their positions. They know how to kick back a little and laugh at themselves when the occasion warrants it.

Have morals

fizkes/Adobe leader introducing new team member
leader 

Leaders exhibit the same ethics and moral principles they expect from their employees. Their public and private actions are worthy of their team's trust.

Take time to celebrate achievements

NDABCREATIVITY/Adobe happy business colleagues in modern office using tablet

Effective supervisors don't hold everyone's nose to the grindstone all the time. In moments of success, they take time to celebrate milestones. They realize the importance that morale-boosting events can have on the cohesiveness and culture of the team.

Understand what you do

Delcio Fernandes/peopleimages.com/Adobe giving presentation to her staff

Strategic leaders know what your job entails and how it fits the organization's workflow and vision. Thus, they don't assign tasks far below or above your capabilities. They understand and respect your job's limitations and scope of responsibility.

Give appropriate training

Arcurs Co-op/peopleimages.com/Adobe teaching training and showing

Great bosses invest time and effort in effectively training their teams. They know that adequate training pays off through employees who know what they're doing and are confident in their abilities.

Bottom line

Malik E/peopleimages.com/Adobe leadership and management

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the workplace's culture or vision at the end of an interview. Will this be a job that will just boost your bank account or a place where you can grow professionally?

It can be hard to know whether you’ll enjoy working for someone if you only get to meet them for a few minutes during an interview.

But if you know what to look for in a great boss, you can keep your eyes open for the traits of an employer you’d like to work with.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.