On Leadership: Things a Great Boss Never Does

Michael ScottBeing a boss is a tough gig. People have problems with authority, and many professionals will argue that they could get their jobs done just as well without someone breathing down their neck.

Still, whether or not the stifled entry- or mid-level employee wants to admit it, good leadership quells anxiety, even in the face of unsolvable problems. The boss sets the tone for an entire office or team, and organizations live and die on the merit of their leaders.

With this idea in mind, we took to our Facebook and Twitter accounts to find out what our readers think a great boss should never do. Here are some of the best responses:

A great boss never…finds the solution for you. He/she lets you find it. - Arianna Vassallo, Public Relations at AIESEC

Here is the classic “teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” answer. Employees want to accomplish their work using their own skills, but a little guidance from superiors can go a long way to making them feel useful and productive.

A great boss never...asks the members of his/her team to do something he/she isn't willing to do, too. - Ray Feldmann, director of communications and Media Relations at Towson University

The best leaders don’t dictate, but instead encourage emulation. Nothing can be more frustrating than being asked to do a task that a superior—who presumably is paid more for his or her services—isn't capable of doing. Leading from the middle encourages an “all in it together” spirit that will improve employee retention. 

A great boss never…assumes he or she is the smartest person in the room. - Nikki Bracy, public relations account executive at Vitamin

Organizations are full of creative and talented people, and all of the smarts are not reserved for the corner office. Good bosses need confidence in their own intelligence, but they should also have an open disposition and seek input from all levels of the company.

A great boss never…joins in when joking about employees or participates in gossip. - Catrina J. Sharp, director of communications at Lessard Builders, Inc.

Taking the high road when it comes to gossip and joking is the best policy for an effective leader. A boss who gossips won’t engender trust—instead, he/she will make employees think they are being joked about behind their backs, too.

A great boss never…stifles creativity. - Nicholas Gilyard (@MrGilyard), intern at Peppercomm

In an environment where everything is constantly changing, sticking to the tried-and-true plan doesn’t always work. Great bosses are willing to lend an ear to new ideas, especially from junior team members, who have different perspectives.

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Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene 

  • Paul

    Hi Brian, …Thank you for this.
    Very insightful and good to remember.
    Much appreciated,

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  • Ed

    I don’t agree that a boss shouldn’t ask others to do things that the boss is not capable of doing. I’m a supervisor and I love it when my staff are such experts that they can take the ball and run with it. I don’t have to have as much expertise as they do; I love it when they grow and then teach the rest of us. They keep me informed and we work together for team goals and I say “Go for it” and let people do their best.

    • Will Hoyles

      I was just going to say the same thing – If none of your team can do anything you can’t then you’ve probably hired the wrong people!