11 Habits of Superb Bosses

woman speaks to group at conference table
woman speaks to group at conference table

By Miriam Salpeter

Most people have worked for a bad boss, but superb bosses often don't get a lot of press. Most employees would give a lot for the opportunity to work for a boss with even a few of these characteristics:

Gives constructive criticism
There's a big difference between a critique and a conversation that engages the employee and helps him or her constructively plan how to change for the better. A great boss knows how to approach a subordinate with the right mix of mentorship and direction.

Provides consistent feedback
In today's workplace, it's not unusual for supervisors to be overwhelmed with their workloads. Often, something that's first to fall off the "to do" list is providing regular feedback and supervision for employees. A strong boss makes a point to offer feedback regularly and to comment on improvements or negative developments so the employee knows exactly where he or she stands.

Rewards good work
While the boss' hands may be tied when it comes to salary or benefits, a good boss recognizes the best employees, even if the recognition is nothing more than a written note filed with personnel.

Knows how to coordinate and juggle
All employees today are taking on more responsibilities, and it's up to each person to manage details for multiple projects simultaneously. The best bosses don't pass on the stress to the people they manage. Instead of acting as if every project is like a fire to put out immediately, good bosses adjust and delegate work based on what needs to get done immediately.

Mentors and coaches employees
Very lucky workers have the opportunity to serve under a boss who is really interested in their careers and in helping them get promotions. The best bosses make a point to identify and enhance their employees' strengths and direct them to projects that will allow them to shine and get noticed.

Accepts responsibility, not just credit
Most people have worked for bosses who are happy to take credit when things are going well, but fewer have a chance to see a real leader in action: the one who steps up and accepts blame when the going gets tough.

Communicates clearly
Good bosses know that communication is only as good as how it is received; it doesn't matter if you think you've explained what needs to be done if your employees don't understand what you've said. The best supervisors understand how to explain what they want done succinctly and directly, and they are available to answer questions as necessary.

Offers challenge and support
This delicate balance eludes most people: how can you challenge your workers to improve while providing the resources and support they need to succeed? Employees need both in order to improve themselves.

Takes calculated risks
Sometimes, it's a real risk for a supervisor to trust an employee with a project that the boss knows is just beyond his or her strengths. The best supervisors will know when the time is right to take a step back and allow people they supervise to take the reigns of a big project.

Recognizes a healthy work-life fit
Most workers loathe the idea of reporting to someone who seems to have no life outside of the office. The unstated message is, "I have no life, so neither should you." These employees often spend long hours at the office because they think it's the only way to impress the higher ups. Confident and competent bosses can motivate people to work overtime when necessary, but don't expect 100% devotion to work all of the time.

Doesn't play obvious favorites
If it's obvious who is the favorite at work, it is challenging for the rest of the team to come together as a unit because there's extra, unnecessary, competition. The best bosses try to eliminate this unhealthy competition that comes from trying to be the favorite and instead instill a sense of working together for the common good of the organization or department.

Related posts from Keppie Careers