The qualities of a good boss: how staff perceive their employers


Staff Loathe…

Hierarchy is old fashioned and based on fear. It doesn’t serve people, the business or profits. Weak leaders hide in hierarchies. Just like the yelling example above, if you rely on hierarchy to make yourself feel good, take a look at your self esteem. If it’s low you won’t be capable of inspiring your team.

Power trips
Similar to hierarchy some weak bosses get off on assigning gross tasks to staff – just to remind them who ‘holds the power’. If there is a blocked toilet in your workplace are you humble enough to don the rubber gloves, grab the plunger and get to work? Or would you much rather take pleasure in asking a ‘jerk from accounting’ to attend to the loo problems? Don’t think the whole team doesn’t notice you not being willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Bosses are there to serve the staff NOT vice versa remember.

I know of a business that listed itself for sale without telling its staff. A couple of workers were having a cuppa relaxing with the Saturday paper and read the listing. Instead of enjoying their weekend they were wondering if their job would still exist on Monday. The boss was embarrassed about selling the business, so didn’t tell them anything. The lost trust and anger from staff on Monday was a lot worse than a tiny dose of embarrassment. Secrets that management know and workers don’t are energy drainers. Team means team. Put all cards on the table – you can trust your workers with ‘inside’ info. Do a secrets audit in your business to see what you keep from staff and why – at what cost?


Bullying can take many forms – even a dirty look or being intentionally left out of a meeting can be a form of bullying. It doesn’t just affect the person being picked on, but also anyone who witnesses the cruelness. Even small bullying behaviours can drag the whole workplace culture down a mile. If it is the boss using bully tactics it is a hundred times worse. The boss is supposed to be the one protecting and nurturing the workplace culture. There are loads of resources on the internet for people suffering bullying.

Low energy thinking
The opposite of the high energy staff love is low energy thinking. If you get hit with a problem and you go into ‘high stress’ mode staff will not be impressed. If you frequently utter words such as “why does this always happen to me” “it’s not my fault” or “we’ll never be able to…” these are powerless statements. They show weakness and peg you as a ‘victim’. If you were thinking at a higher level you would handle any issues in an upbeat way, be strong and find a clever solution (instead of being blinded only by the problem).

As a boss, do what the staff love and avoid what staff loathe. If you don’t know what that is in your workplace – get busy asking.

What do you think makes a good boss?

Allison O’Neill is an expert on bosses. She is the New Zealand based author of The Boss Benchmark – a book about how to be an amazing boss. It has been endorsed by high profile and worldwide CEO’s. For more information, please visit

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