Is a Good Boss Hard to Find?

We all complain about our bosses. I can’t even say how many conversations I’ve been in where someone is criticizing the boss. Comments like this are not uncommon:

  • He (or she) doesn’t have a clue.
  • I don’t know why this company promotes people like him (or her)!
  • He (or she) just sits around doing nothing while we do the real work.

My Twitter account today had this little reminder on it: It never hurts to review what makes a good boss. Here is the website where you can do that right now.

The article from CNN News, written by Anthony Balderrama,, offers lots of interesting thoughts on this topic, among them these quotations from workers about the give and take that a good boss usually has:

  • “Be consistent and predictable. It is hard for subordinates to make the boss look good when the boss behaves erratically and every situation seems to result in a unique decision.” – Botha
  • “They are able to get you to do something without using coercive tactics or bullying. They’re able to frame the discussion in the same way a good basketball coach tells you what the best play will be.” — Andrew Lee, co-founder and CEO of
  • “Promote from within. Develop your subordinates and then promote them when the opportunity arises. Subordinates will quickly understand your intentions when you always hire people from outside your organization for top positions.” — Botha
  • “A good boss will defend your actions (when they are defensible) and will help you when there is a problem.” – Deborah Graham
  • “A good boss understands that every task given to you cannot be your No. 1, top priority and will work with you to readjust priority lists if necessary.” — Graham
  • “A good boss knows the overall value each employee brings to the organization, and keeps that in mind. So, a single transgression by an otherwise excellent employee doesn’t demand the same response as the same transgression by an employee who consistently makes mistakes.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing at Clare Computer Solutions
  • “A good boss keeps you informed about what is happening at the higher management levels and what projects might be coming down the road.” — Graham

If I were adding my own quote to this list, I’d say, “A good boss will listen to your point of view.” What would you say?

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. While I agree with all of the comments in this list, I shudder when I hear the word “boss.” I know it’s common terminology (and I even use it myself when I’m not thinking!) but words like boss, chain of command, and even human “resources” refer to an older paradigm of organizations, where people are “head count” and bosses are “superiors.”

    I’d love to see a movement to free us from this old-school language.

  2. What would such a movement look like? The old paradigm lives everywhere I’ve worked. It would be a new — and fun — experience to work in a place where that paradigm did not rule the day. What qualities would leaders have?

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