Many of us work or have worked at jobs in which we have experienced both good and bad bosses. Some of us are even bosses where we work.

What makes a good boss? It would be good to start with understanding who a boss is? You are correct to say that a boss is someone who has the responsibility to supervise employees at an office or wherever people come together to exchange their skills and competences in exchange for money.

Sometimes a boss may also have a boss, so it’s about a chain of command if you will or a hierarchy. Could a boss also be referred to as a manager? I suppose we may say so; although the definition of a manager in its full context may extend beyond that of a boss.


A good boss is someone who is able to get his subordinates to achieve results they would not have been able to accomplish without the boss’s presence. In the process of getting these subordinates to get these tasks, done h/she earns their trust and respect.

A good boss understands that the task is to cultivate the abilities of subordinates to achieve the job that needs to be done in a way that they (subordinates) are getting things done, not just because they have to but also because they want to.

A good boss doesn’t always have to be physically present to ensure the job gets done.


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Trust is earned and by definition requires time. People are only comfortable in business with people they trust.

Employees want to know that the boss has their interest at heart; they want to know that the boss has their back. Employees are people; and people want to know that their leader cares.

Nearly no one wants to be treated like a statistic. So it’s not just about the numbers and the bottom line but also about the people who make this come true.

Employees, who do not trust their boss may just work for the pay, work only when the boss is physically present or not work at all. The thing certain in this case is that the work done would be at best basic and restricted to probably just what is expected.

When the boss is not trusted there would be no initiative expressed by the employee. This is usually because the bad boss is unable to recognize and reward effort by the subordinate, eventually the employee sees no motivation to put in that extra work.

The question of responsibility also comes into play. A boss who would not take responsibility when things go wrong is sure to lose the trust of his subordinates. Here we have a boss who hides behind his subordinates when things go south and would rather see them caught in the cross fire.

It has been established that the single distinguishing factor of a productive team from a not so productive one is trust. When team members trust each other and their leader, they can go to great lengths to achieve feats for the organization.

The converse is the case for teams where there is distrust, in such cases even well intentioned actions can be misunderstood and ill motives can be read into seemingly harmless situations.


Respect can only be earned. It cannot be enforced or coerced. In its pure form respect is devoid of fear. A boss who has to make the subordinates respect him/ her is actually not gaining respect; h/she may make the employees work in fear, but that’s just it.

Productivity and initiative cannot thrive where there is fear. This is because fear is about the person of the boss and what could happen when the task is undone: fear of criticism from the boss, fear of being embarrassed, and fear of economic loss, in the loss or reduction of a wage or outright loss of a job.

A team where fear is the predominant emotion is definitely not an asset to any organization.

As a general rule everyone deserves respect in the sense that we are all part of the human community and are entitled to respect for our beliefs, respect for our privacy, respect for our personal freedoms; basic rights to which we are all entitled to.

A boss therefore who does not show respect in any of the above to the employee is certain to lose respect in the face of this employee. It is true that we get only that which we give.


It should be easy to identify who a bad boss is. A bad boss in its general form would refer to someone who through h/her actions or inactions rubs subordinates the wrong way!


A good boss is a good leader. A leader has followers while a boss has subordinates, if he is a good leader, he would have followers, if he is not, he would simply have subordinates who obey him but who do not necessarily follow him.

A good boss knows leadership is about responsibility and not a title or position, in many instances a bad boss is a vain person who prides in being in a station of power without understanding the import of the responsibility to the followers.

A good boss cares about his subordinates. People have feelings; a good boss recognizes this. While the focus is not to make employees feel good all the time at the expense of the job, as there are times that the task may not entail that “feel good” emotion, and abilities need to be stretched. However many employees already know this.

What employees need is a leader who would recognize that in the course of getting the job done, they need to feel respected, valued and appreciated.

A good boss stretches himself, as well as his subordinates to do more. Remember that a boss is only useful to the extent that work gets done that would not have been realized if he were not on the scene. In other words, if productivity does not improve then the boss in not needed.

Remember a good boss doesn’t have to be a task master. H/she simply has to get more work done through people in a healthy atmosphere of mutual respect.

This is not to say there would not be periods of conflict. It simply means that the culture of this workplace is one that encourages employees to be treated with respect without sacrificing the high work standards that many people seek in their lives.

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  1. Charles Reply

    Thank you very much for this nice and great article. All your points concerning the qualities and attributes of a good boss is spot on. I can’t agree less with anything here, A good boss should be able to treat his surbodinate with respect because respect is reciprocal. How I wish all boss and leaders out there can get to read this great piece of yours.

    • Abayomi Disu Post authorReply

      Thank you Charles for your comment, Yes, mutual respect is very important for  a productive work place.

  2. Emmanuel Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. When most people hear the word BOSS, they get unnecessarily scared because of the picture that has been painted in their mind. I like how you defined who a Boss is.

    For the smooth running of an organization, a cordial relationship has to exist between the Boss and the workers…. I have gotten to realize that you don’t get the best out of your workers by shouting at them

    • Abayomi Disu Post authorReply

      Thank you Emmanuel for the comment. Yes, cordiality is key to make for a harmonious work relationship.

  3. Claudio Reply


    What an interesting topic when we talk about the characteristics that a good boss has to have. 

    I consider a good boss the one who knows about the a-z the work that his staff have to perform. To know about the a-z he had to first perform the task a certain amount of time. 

    Having accumulated a lot of experience in the task. Standing out within the organization.
    Surely then you will value your staff, standing out only those best prepared. Surely both the boss and an employee will scale positions within a good organization.
    It is my opinion. 

    Thank you!

    • Abayomi Disu Post authorReply

      This is true Claudio, a good boss also has to show competence on the job. This is also important to lead effectively.

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