How To Know You’re The Best Possible Boss


We all want to believe that we are a better boss than average. You know, the kind that inspires the affection, commitment and respect from the people they lead. Trouble is, on a normal distribution of the good and not so good bosses, half of us will be below average.

Here are five questions to ask yourself if you want to become a better boss and demonstrate integrity.



1 Does Everyone Understand The Goal?

Good leaders create a clear and compelling picture of some future (better) place or time. They make time to discuss this future, listening to responses and incorporating them into a constantly evolving view of that better future.

Take time to work with your people so they can each contribute to your clarifying your goal.

2 Are You Listening?

Great bosses constantly look for feedback from as many sources as they can find. This helps to keep the course ahead clear and maintains consistency.  It also builds momentum, fuelling the effort needed by demonstrating the value of everyone’s contribution.

Remember – feeling appreciated by the boss builds commitment like nothing else will.

3 Are You Developing Yourself?

A great boss knows self-development is never over. Better bosses are appropriately self-critical and take steps to ensure they continue to improve their own skill and competency.

There’s also big value is demonstrating personal humility – openly –  so it encourages others to do the same.

4 Are You Micro-Managing?

One of the greatest incentives you can give is to show your trust in the team around you.

There are many ways of keeping in touch with the progress that doesn’t weigh everyone down with the idea that you’re actually marking their homework. A better boss will encourage their team to work through what the challenge means for them and will signal high both expectations and trust in the team together.

5 Are You Looking Out Of The Window?

Better bosses look out of the window to attribute success to everyone but themselves. They only look in the mirror when failure emerges.

Show your appreciation for what you want to see and you will get more of it. To be a better boss, make sure that your praise and positive feedback is specific and is tailored to both individuals and the team.

If you like visuals, there’s a neat infographic from Headway Capital.


Who’s the best boss you’ve worked for and why?

  • Carolyn Volker says:

    This is a really good graphic pictographs and reminder. Thank you for sharing. My best boss was a chief executive I worked for in UK, the reason being he was always sincere, you always felt he took your views into account even though tough decisions may have meant actions were different. But he had a way of involving you in those tough decisions so you understood the variables at play. The result was loyalty and trust and feeling a valued member of the team.

    • Adam Cairns says:

      Thanks for the comment Carolyn. Treating people with respect in this way is always a good practice – and as you say – builds loyalty and commitment too.

  • Henrik says:

    The best leader I have ever met and had the pleasure to work for was brought into a company in which I was then employed, with what was later understood as the agenda to sell the business to the highest bidder. He was presented to the rest of the company in an information meeting called for in a flash – and the meeting started with this one strange man going around to all the staff, greeting and shaking hands with all hands. After this he told us who he was, a bit about his history, and what he stood for – ending up in the mantra:
    "What can I do for you today?"
    And actually, he succeeded – by taking the first step and practicing his mantra, by highlighting that management did whatever it could for the employees, as far as it was within his power – to make practically the entire company operate in the same way; to meet each other in the offices with a spirit of "what can I do for you today?"
    And finally – when the company actually found a buyer, and probably about one-sixth of the company’s employees refused to sign a new contract that gave the new owner the intellectual property rights to virtually any idea that the employees would to get at work or in the leisure time, awake or asleep, it was he – personally – who was able to make ends meet. Because everyone knew he was a man whose word was to be trusted.
    If anything, there is certainly a phrase that I have brought with me from there to remember to this very day. It may well happen that I do not often speak it out verbatim. But I try my best to live the spirit of it: "what can I do for you today?"
    Thanks for your blog and your inspiration.

    • Adam Cairns says:

      Hi Henrik, thanks for the very thought provoking comment. I like the mantra — it speaks to the idea that a leader’s role is to serve the people he/she works with. Terrific.

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