OK, there are a lot of good bosses out there too!

Last week I blogged about the bad bosses. This week, let's look at the good ones. Take these cues and learn from the great ones. I recently heard this great-boss story: 

A woman was about to start a new job when an unexpected medical emergency came up and she had to schedule significant surgery right before starting the new position. So she called up her boss-to-be and explained the situation. But rather than being upset, or calling the new job off, he arranged it so that she would start the job on disability leave and thereby get her salary to kick-in.

When her first check arrived two weeks later, it turned out that it was for her full salary and not the partial disability salary she expected. She called the boss to say that a mistake had been made, but he said no, that they decided to pay her normally. He wished her a speedy recovery and said that they hope to see her soon. Of course she is so grateful that she says they will have a loyal employee forever.

Isn’t that one of the main benefits of being a great boss – you get to create a happy and productive workplace? Yes, being a good boss sometimes costs more and requires greater patience, but the payoffs far outweigh any burdens:

  • You make more money. Studies show that happy employees create happy customers and happy customers create happy bank accounts
  • You instill loyalty and hard work. People like to work for people they like, and will work harder and better. They will also have a better attitude and be willing to go the extra mile
  • You can sleep at night: I can tell you that, having once had a boss threaten to put his cigarette out in my forehead because I didn’t hit my numbers that month, I don’t know how some of these people live with themselves. But the opposite is true too of course – good bosses set great examples

And the thing is, it is not that difficult to be a good boss. It is really a matter of trying to do the right thing. How about the boss who offered an employee all of the available overtime work one month because he knew she was in a bad financial situation? It didn’t cost him anything but it sure did gain him a lot. Or the boss who made sure that the pregnant cashier was able to sit down while doing her job?

Little things go a long way in the workplace.

I would bet that all good bosses have most of these traits in common:

They are fair: The hallmark of the bad boss is that life under their tyrannical rule is haphazard and unfair: Some people are favorites and others are not, some things make sense and many don’t. In contrast, the good boss is reasonable and fair. She treats people equally for the most part and people do not feel taken advantage of.

They trust employees to be adults: The good boss will avoid micromanaging because he knows that that seldom works and it demeans the employee. He knows that if someone needs a day off that they probably have a good reason.

They challenge you: It is not Pollyannaish, this being a good boss business. No one expects the good boss to be nothing but a rah-rah cheerleader. Rather, the good boss leads the way, expects your best, and rewards you in kind with either perks or compliments if you uphold your end of the bargain.

They listen: They may not always agree, but they listen – whether it is to a suggestion on how to do things better or why a raise is deserved.

They are respectful: Usually, they remember to say “please” and “thank you” which is increasingly, and sadly, not as common as before.

About the Author(s)

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading entrepreneurship and small business experts. He has been seen on CNN, CNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and his column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly on

USA TODAY Senior Small Business Columnist and Best-Selling Author