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11 Ways to Be a Great Boss

Working with a group recently, I asked, "Tell me the qualities of the best bosses you’ve ever had." Since we were all seasoned enough to have experienced a few bosses in our careers, the ideas began to flow. Then I asked a flipside question, "What are the some of the things you really dislike in bosses?" I took my notes and played around with them and saw something neat emerging....

A teacher of mine once told me that if you are going to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you’d better take your own off first. Good advice. Looking at someone else’s situation only through your perspective doesn’t show the whole picture.

And so it was that I’ve been fascinated by a little book called "Walk Awhile in My Shoes" by Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura. It’s two books in one. One side has messages from employees to their bosses, and then flip the book over and see messages from bosses to employees – on the same topics.

It’s the book we used to jump start our thinking for this month’s "Book Talk." The session last week was great! A small group assembled on Thursday and it was one of those meetings where everyone just "clicked." I could tell that this would be productive. My main goal in hosting the meeting is to help people get started with "changing the conversation" in their business. The book is a prop – a way to frame the talk – it’s the resulting conversation that really matters.

These gut level, real world messages got us off to a good start. I’d read the book again in preparation for the meeting. Since all of us on the call had experienced being both the employee and the boss, I thought we’d start off talking about bosses from the employee’s perspective. The group was small and the conversation flowed out of the combined jobs we had held in the past. The knowledge of the group was amazing and I started taking notes from the beginning. By the time we got to our 45-minute mark, I knew we’d want to keep talking for at least another 15 minutes and so we all stayed on the line.

I love working with groups. I find that the group mind is so much more than the individual mind – the fact that we work in different companies and bring different experiences really enriches the conversation and broadens the viewpoint.

As I looked over my notes after the program, I realized that I had a list of important things that I wanted to share with all the members of our customer caring community since so many of us find ourselves in the role of "boss."

You can read the book and duplicate our success by asking the same questions I did.

"Tell me the qualities of the best bosses you’ve ever had," I asked. As soon as one of us started, we all had something to share, since we were all seasoned enough to have experienced a few bosses in our careers. Then I asked a flipside question "What are the some of the things you really dislike in bosses?"

I took my notes and played around with them and saw something neat emerging. I see this list growing over time as we continue our discussions of leadership, customer loyalty and happiness.

So herewith our the delightful little manifesto (so far):

11 Ways to be a Great Boss:

  1. I am present and I pay attention.
  2. I am respectful (and never speak negatively or gossip about another employee or a customer).
  3. I trust my employees to do the right thing.
  4. I trust them to have common sense.
  5. I ask for their opinions and listen carefully to them.
  6. I understand that they are interested in the good of the whole company.
  7. I support their growth by having high expectations for them and then I inspire them to live up to those expectations.
  8. I invite them to use their strengths and stretch.
  9. I give them feedback in a number of ways:
    I show my confidence both verbally and behaviorally.
    I behave in a way that communicates to them that I think they have the "right stuff."
  10. I keep information flowing.
  11. I honor who they are.

Tack this one up on your wall or in your calendar and make sure that you live these qualities every day, and be sure to let me know what you would like your boss to know about being a better one! Yep! I think I’ll keep this list going.

Lead on!



JoAnna Brandi is Publisher of the Customer Care Coach® a weekly training program on mastering "The Art and Science of Exquisite Customer Care." She is the author of books such as "Winning at Customer Retention - 101 Ways to Keep 'em Happy, Keep 'em Loyal, and Keep 'em Coming Back" and "Building Customer Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in ACTION.
A Speaker and consultant, she is publisher of the bi-weekly Customer Care Tips Bulletin. To receive her free bi-weekly tips bulletin, sign up at You can also reach JoAnna at 561-279-0027 or e-mail


Copyright 2006 by JoAnna Brandi. Used with permission.

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