What makes a good boss?

Knowing what makes a good boss is crucial. William Raduchel –  independent director & former professor of economics at Harvard – said:

Don’t pick a job. Pick a Boss. Your first boss is the biggest factor in your career success. A boss who doesn’t trust you won’t give you opportunities to grow. – William Raduchel

Especially for fresh graduates or people who have just started their career, choosing the first boss to work for is of uttermost importance, because the first boss will significantly define their directions and future roads. So if you are fresh graduates / young professionals, how to know if you should work for a certain boss? What are the qualities of a good boss that you should work for?

In previous post I listed qualities of good team members I have been looking for. In this post, I will tell you about my list of qualities that I’m looking for in a boss / leader – qualities which I am also striving for, to be a good leader for my team as well:

I. A good boss develops his subordinates

When you work for someone, you expect to gain something. For young people, what you should strive for is experience and skills instead of money. Robert Kiyosaki, author of best-seller “Rich dad, poor dad” stated

Work to learn, not to earn – Robert Kiyosaki

Since your highest purpose should be to learn, your ideal boss you are looking for should be the one who is able to develop you the most.

II. A good boss knows his subordinates

What makes a good boss includes one important trait: Knowing. A boss who develops his subordinates knows his subordinates. He keeps watching how his team performs and figures out each member’s strengths and weaknesses. Being able to understand the team allows him to plan how to develop his team.

What makes a good boss: I love my boss

III. A good boss communicates well, even in hard situation

You don’t grow solely by reading theories. You actually grow in working and practicing, and you will surely make a lot of successes and mistakes along the way.

A good boss keeps an eye on you when you do make successes and mistakes. He communicates them with you in a constructive way, so that you understand the situation, how to react next time, your strengths and your weaknesses.

IV. A good boss creates a common purpose and motivates team towards it

A company is like a ship, and employees are its sailors. A ship which arrives first is the one whose sailors know where the ship should go and sail towards the same directions. Success for the ship is success for everyone on the ship.

If you want to be successful in your job, choose the boss who is able to clearly define the goal for himself and for the team. You will know it when you ask the same question for the boss and for his team, and receive the same answer describing a common goal. You will know it when you see motivation of the team when telling you the goal. If you see their enthusiasm, you are talking to a team motivated by their boss.

V. A good boss creates caring & sharing culture

A good boss understands that the team’s strength lies in the way members working together. It is even more important than having solo super-star in a team.

A good boss understands that a caring & sharing culture is important. It’s like preparing a fertile land for you as seeds to grow. When you work in a team with such culture, you are supported on your work and not blamed for your mistake. Instead, your team embraces it because there is high level of understanding in team.

A boss of this type also not falls into the common trap of Magical thinking which is unhealthy to team’s development and sustainability.

VI. A good boss understands what is going on in his teams

A good boss needs to understand team’s status to make good judgement, such as:

  • Knowing that someone is doing a good/bad job so that he can give him 1 minute praise/reprimand
  • Knowing that someone is in need of support but he receives little from the team, so that he can jump in to help him
  • Knowing someone is going in the wrong direction with the whole team so that he can talk to him for adjustment
  • Knowing how you are doing so that he can take necessary actions to support you in each steps of your work


Before taking a job, ask your self if the CEO and line managers have the above qualities. Not all managers possess as many qualities, but you should aim at choosing the CEO and your direct report who have as many qualities (of the list above) as possible.

If you feel that your bosses are the ones – then congratulations. You know what makes a good boss and you’ve got him.

If you are still in doubt and do not know how to know exactly if your bosses have above qualities, you can read my next post where I provide you a list of interviewing questions for your bosses.

What makes a good boss: Leadership




Tung Dao

Tung is a Msc. in IT Management from University College Dublin. Tung is currently working in Astro Bhd as Scrum Master.