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10 Things Great Bosses Have in Common

By Maurie Backman – Updated Aug 23, 2018 at 5:17PM

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Are you a superb manager? Here's how to know -- or how to get there.

Being a great boss can not only work wonders for your career, it can positively influence the people who report to you. Of course, not everyone has what it takes to do a good job of being a boss, and much of it, in fact, boils down to personality traits and attitude.

But know this: An estimated 94% of workers with great bosses are passionate about their jobs, and that typically translates into better performance. In other words, motivate your employees to do their best, and it'll reflect well on you, thereby furthering your own career.

Man in suit standing and addressing several professionals who are giving him their attention


What does it take to be a great boss? The Predictive Index, LLC conducted a survey to see what traits strong managers have in common, and here's what it found:

  1. Having a strong work ethic
  2. Being honest
  3. Having a sense of humor
  4. Being confident
  5. Maintaining a positive attitude
  6. Having strong decision-making skills
  7. Recognizing employee contributions
  8. Being passionate about the job
  9. Being highly knowledgeable about the area you manage
  10. Having a solid grasp of the business, as a whole

If being a good boss is important to you, it's crucial that you focus on these key qualities. The more you do, the better your chances of building the reputation you want.

Aim to always improve

Your goal as a boss should be to continuously improve and do right by your employees, so to that end, it pays to review the above list and make sure you're solid in each of the aforementioned qualities. If your work ethic isn't strong, you can't expect your employees to give the job their all, so aim to set an example.

Show up on time and don't make a habit of needlessly leaving early. Be present for important meetings and push yourself to make an extra effort when major deadlines loom.

Honesty is another key quality good managers have, so aim to be as transparent with your team members as possible. If you have an employee who's struggling, don't gloss over it. Rather, address the issue openly and aim to help that worker improve.

A good sense of humor will go a long way in any office environment, especially when the going gets stressful, so if you tend to succumb to work-related pressures, develop your own means of alleviating tension during the day. This could mean taking breaks every so often to stretch, going for a walk, or doing whatever it takes to help you bring things down a notch.

Confidence in your own skill set and performance will also help make you a better manager, and it ties in directly to two other must-have qualities: being knowledgeable about your area of management and the business, on a whole. So if you're lacking here, aim to fill in those knowledge gaps so you approach your job more self-assuredly.

Attend conferences, take courses, or pick the brains of the many professionals who no doubt make up your personal business network. You might even turn to your own boss for suggestions on how to boost your knowledge set and gain the confidence you need.

The ability to make good decisions is another item that distinguishes good managers from bad ones. To some extent, this is a skill that might simply take time to develop, but again, it ties into the whole confidence factor.

One thing you can easily do on your own, however, is get better about acknowledging workers who do a good job. If you have an employee who goes above and beyond, send a thank you note by email or praise that person publicly during your next team meeting. People like to feel appreciated, so if you make that happen, you'll up the motivation factor even more.

Finally, it helps to be passionate about what you do, so if you're not particularly excited about your work, you might consider making a career switch and doing something that stimulates you. Or work with your own manager to rethink your role and scope of responsibility so that you're able to approach your job from a more enthusiastic standpoint. Your attitude toward your job will inform your behavior as a manager, and it'll also be obvious to your direct reports, so if you're not doing what you want to be doing, aim to change that one way or another.

If you're going to take on the responsibility of being a manager, you might as well be good at it. Now that you know what it takes to get there, you can work on being the best possible role model and mentor for the people who are lucky enough to call you their boss.

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