How to Be a Boss that Doesn’t Suck

We talk a lot on this podcast about navigating tricky workplace scenarios, career change, and toxic managers. And one of my friends, a business owner in her own right, listens in on our weekly career conundrums and worries: “Oh my god, am I perceived that way by my employees? How can I ensure I’m not one of those toxic bosses? How can I be a boss that doesn’t suck?”

She gave me the idea for today’s episode, and in fact we’re focusing the entire month of June here at Bossed Up with free webinars, podcasts, and articles all about how to further develop critical leadership skills that can help you become the best boss you can be. Make sure you’re an email insider now at to get in on those goodies.

So just the other week, I asked my followers on Twitter and our listeners in the Bossed Up Courage Community on Facebook this question:

What are the practices, actions, or characteristics that you appreciated or valued most in the best boss you ever had?

There were 3 clear trends that emerged right away in your responses: encouragement, trust, and communication.

When it comes to encouragement, listeners like you had this to say:

Daria: Expressing gratitude when I’ve done a Great Job!

Heather: Giving true and genuine compliments

Luyba: A person that believed in me & made me feel like I could figure out any challenges.

Patti: Made everyone up and down the chain feel they were necessary and crucial to success. Effusive with praise and encouragement when projects were finished, and adept at leading a conversation about how we could improve for the next one

In other words, a big part of being a boss that doesn’t suck, is inspiring your team with encouragement, praise, and just making it clear that you believe in them. This might not come naturally to folks who aren’t big on verbal affirmations, but it’s a reminder how far your words of encouragement can go in having an impact on the entire team.

The next clear trend that emerged from your responses was all about trust:

Christine: Giving me autonomy!

Gabriela: Freedom and trust to make decisions

Michelle: Appreciating I was actually genuinely sick and not making me feel like I was taking advantage of PTO (bc he knew I was working my butt off every minute and struggling to be well)

But it’s not just about bosses trusting their employees, trust is a two-way street:

Meredith: Being paid on time! Sounds like a given but I’ve worked for a lot of people who weren’t organized or didn’t pay me correctly etc. that shouldn’t be something an employee or contractor should have to fight for.

Lena: I really appreciate when bosses aren’t arbitrary in rule creation/enforcement. I appreciate being able to manage my own time and being trusted to do so. Some bosses feel they have to exert their authority by micromanaging me like I’m in grade school.

It’s clear that your actions as a boss can in some ways speak louder than your words. Bringing transparency and consistency to operations seems key.

Finally, many of your responses boiled down to communication skills:

Caitlin: Communication, communication, communication. I don’t think I can stress this enough. I like my job now but one of the things that stresses me out the most is my boss. She tells us everything last minute, which has me rearranging plans and making changes to what I’m doing ALL the time to accommodate her. And what she does tell us is never explained, so you never actually know what she needs from you.

On the contrary, Jenny had this to say about her best boss:

Jenny: Asking me how I want to be managed/what motivates me and how I like to communicate.

Emily: Genuine interest in me as a person. She’d set aside ten minutes in her busy schedule to just chat with me each week.

Cait: Being upfront with expectations and being direct. As a manager now, I do this, and I know my employees appreciate it because they’ve told me.

Cristina: Connecting the work to the big picture. Committing time for regular check ins and providing honest, constructive feedback. Determining what kind of support each person needs and providing that rather than a one-size approach.

Turns out, there are lots of ways to be a boss that doesn’t suck, and focusing on these three strengths – encouragement, trust, and communication – feels like a good place to start.

I wanna hear from you. What traits do you appreciate most in the best bosses you’ve ever had? And how are you striving to incorporate those characteristics into your everyday leadership practice?

Join in on the conversation on Twitter by hitting me up at @emiliearies and @bosseduporg, or join in on this very long comment thread that we’ve got going in the Bossed Up Courage Community on Facebook.

Don’t know what that is? Go to right now and sign up at the front of our home page to get an invitation sent directly to your inbox. Plus, that way you’ll be a Bossed Up email insider and get the scoop on all the great, free leadership development resources we’ve got coming your way this month, too.






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