12 Essential Traits of a Good Boss

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This is a good boss!


A bad boss can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of your life. It’s no surprise, then, that one in two American workers have left a job because of a bad manager.

A good boss, however, changes everything. But what are the elusive traits of a good boss?

Whether you’re a manager, aspire to be one, or are interested in how yours measures up, we take some time to examine what it takes to enter The Land of Good Bosses. (A place all of us want to live, but few actually get to experience.)

Good bosses are human. (And they encourage their employees to be human, too.)

A good boss acts like a regular person. One that takes sick days and vacation, has human emotions and doctor’s appointments and family responsibilities. The reward is employees that feel free to be human, too. And that makes for a relaxed, happier, more productive staff.

They don’t expect perfection.

Speaking of being human, nobody’s perfect. Good bosses know this. They also know they’re not perfect either, so they accept mistakes—including their own—with grace and work side-by-side with employees to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent the same mistakes in the future.

They’re passionate about what they do.

It’s easy to spot a manager that only comes into the office for a paycheck. Good bosses love what they do and it shows. They’re upbeat and brimming with ideas, inspiring employees with their passion and energy.

They don’t take out their stress on others.

We’ve all had that one manager that—depending on the day, his or her workload, home life, even just a bad commute—has employees cowering in their cubicles. Whether it’s on-the-job pressure or personal burdens, good bosses don’t take out stress on their team.

They keep their cool.

When things go wrong at work, employees look to managers for not only what steps to take, but how to react. When a boss panics, their team panics, too. A calm leader puts everyone at ease and restores confidence during tough times so employees can focus on their tasks.

They communicate.

Good managers know their employees aren’t mind readers, so they communicate what they need, what’s going right, and what’s going wrong (and how to fix it). They also know that listening is the foundation of effective communication, so they take the time to have meaningful exchanges with each member of their team.

They trust their employees.

Nobody likes a micromanager. (No, really. Nobody.) And it’s hard to work with Big Brother breathing down your neck. A good boss trusts their employees and gives them the independence they need to succeed.

They’re available.

Whether it’s an open office door or quick responses to email, good bosses make themselves available. Employees knows she or he is always around—in person or virtually—to answer questions, provide support, and handle sticky situations.

They give employees the tools they need.

From speedy desktops and ergonomic chairs to a phone system designed to make the workday easier, good managers make sure their employees have the tools they need to be comfortable and efficient.

They celebrate wins.

Good bosses know every win has a team behind it. So when there’s a major achievement, there’s also a celebration. Whether it’s happy hour appetizers and drinks or just a congratulatory group email, successful managers acknowledge accomplishments and the teams behind them.

They respect boundaries.

It’s one thing to be friendly with employees, it’s another thing to be friends. Good bosses build relationships with each employee. But, like successful parents, good managers also know how to draw the line between leadership and friendship.

They’re approachable.

While a good boss shouldn’t be friends with employees, a little friendliness goes a long way. So does empathy and encouragement. Approachable bosses are good bosses, which makes for successful employees, more wins, and sometimes even more happy hours.


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