The 5 Secrets of Great Bosses

When you think of your best boss ever, what did he or she do that created an inspiring work environment for you? How did he or she act to enable your high performance and high engagement each day?

I’ve asked thousands of people in my leadership programs and keynote audiences these questions. The answers I hear are consistent. Great bosses do five vital things daily to create workplace inspiration and serve their employees well.

Before I share these five secrets, let me pose a different question: Would your employees, today, say you are their best boss ever? The answer may not be a resounding “yes” from every employee.

Today’s entrepreneurs invest a great deal of time and energy in their businesses. If you’re like many small-business owners, you put greater thought into your products and services than you do into your company’s culture. Thing is, culture — the quality of your work environment and the relationships you have with your employees — drives everything that happens in your organization, good or bad.

Great bosses ensure that their company’s work environment is founded upon trust and respect. Those bosses model trust and respect daily, and they require that team members demonstrate trust and respect in every interaction, with each other and with customers.

So what does it take to be a GREAT boss? It has to do with Growth, Relationships, Excellence, Accountability and Teamwork.

1. Inspire growth: Great leaders help employees build needed skills and toss antiquated ones. They help employees try new approaches that can increase quality and efficiency. Great bosses hold employees to high standards of performance and delivery. They ensure employees see the business from their customers’ point of view so that great service is the norm.

2. Honor relationships: They know that positive relationships based on shared values create trust and respect. They understand that without mutual trust and respect, workplace cooperation disappears. Great bosses demand civility as a minimum standard for treatment of workplace peers and customers, no matter what. They create clear “rules” to ensure fair and kind treatment of everyone.

3. Inspire excellence: They set high standards of performance for themselves and for every employee. They know that their team and organization have made performance promises — to each other and to customers. Hitting or exceeding these high standards means those promises are kept. Great bosses celebrate goal traction and effort as well as goal accomplishment – every day.

4. Ensure accountability: Top-notch leaders know that consequence management is the path to high performing, values-aligned teams. They craft an environment of both joint accountability (the team delivers on its promises) and individual accountability (every individual delivers on his or her promises). Consequence management means there is consistent and prompt validation of aligned effort as well as consistent and prompt redirection of misaligned effort.

5. Encourage teamwork: They understand that cooperative teamwork among employees maintains trust and respect more than competitive interaction does. Great bosses create incentives for not only individual contribution but for aligned team contributions, too. A mantra of “win as one team” helps create a supportive yet driven environment where team members work together to deliver promised products and services.

By integrating some of these practices in your own work teams, you can become a great boss to your employees — while boosting performance, service and profits.


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