Merge's Blog

What made that good boss so special?

My professional colleague and good friend Kit Grant is known to his clients as “The Director of Comfort Zone Infiltration” because he works with them to help create environments that foster personal responsibility and accountability. And today he makes a return appearance to the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog as a guest author.

Most people can remember a really good boss they used to work for, or still do. At the same time, it’s not hard to recall the one you didn’t like. If you were to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, you could list the good characteristics on one side and the not-so-good on the other. After making your list, you would probably discover that what sets the good boss apart from the other one is their ability to exercise better “people skills”. I am not suggesting technical skills are not important, but most people who leave organizations actually just leave a particular manager or supervisor.

So what are some of these important “people skills”? Here’s a few I have identified:

  • Gives clear instructions … it doesn’t matter whether you understand your directions, it only counts when they actually get it!
  • Good listening skills … the foundation of trust building and people will do almost anything for you if they trust you.
  • Enthusiasm for the task and for life in general … people get excited when the leader is excited.
  • High degree of self-esteem and self-confidence … usually gained by experiencing success by doing what you are good at — this has huge implications for hiring and delegating effectively.
  • Encourages continual growth and improvement …. we all have a daily choice of getting better or worse.
  • Makes decisions and addresses challenges after appropriate analysis … people do not like working for someone who won’t make decisions and gets bogged down in endless meetings after which not much happens.
  • Recognizes efforts of others and praises accordingly … feedback based on performance creates a motivating environment as opposed to no personal recognition ever being given which usually means your good people leave (because they can).
  • Expects good work from everyone … as opposed to demanding it — no one wants to work for “Attila the Hun” or “Hunette” as the case may be.
  • Can overcome resistance to change … people follow you because they think you know where you are going.

How many of the above characteristics would describe your leadership style? Implementing these on a consistent basis builds strong teams and personal loyalty.

So Kit asked: how many of these “people skills” would you use to describe yourself?  Do tell.  Please add your comments below.

And you can reach Kit through his website at

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