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  • Ron Lilek

Good Boss or Bad Boss? Some Handy Clues

If you've been in the workforce for any length of time, you've no doubt had some good bosses and some bad bosses. Good bosses make work a pleasure; bad bosses make it a nightmare. I've taken inventory of the managers I've reported to over the years, and I've come up with some good boss/bad boss traits. Certainly not exhaustive, because I've focused on character traits only, but without considering those traits, no boss can truly be judged as good or bad, so here goes:

GOOD BOSS- Your caller ID shows your boss's number. You answer quickly because he's a pleasure to talk to and learn from.

BAD BOSS- Your caller ID shows your boss's number. You ignore it and listen to the voicemail he leaves you because he's a boring loudmouth with nothing important to say unless it's negative or threatening.

GOOD BOSS - She allows you to work independently but is always available when you need her.

BAD BOSS - She micromanages her staff and makes you feel like she's always watching you.

GOOD BOSS - You screw something up and you're anxious to inform him because you know he will come up with a way to fix the situation. And he'll understand that it was an honest mistake.

BAD BOSS - You screw something up, delay telling him, and then stay up all night worrying whether he's going to fire you when you tell him in the morning.

GOOD BOSS - In times of corporate crisis, you can always count on him to take charge and lead the way.

BAD BOSS - In times of corporate crisis, he disappears for three weeks and comes back with a shaved head and a nose ring.

GOOD BOSS - She's a team builder who always lets you know where you stand.

BAD BOSS - She's a worm who'll stab you in the back if necessary to save her own behind.

GOOD BOSS - She earns your respect by being fair, direct, and consistent in all of her dealings with you and your peers.

BAD BOSS - She plays favorites, and she makes it clear that you are not one of her favorites.

GOOD BOSS - He's always on an even keel and pleasant to be around.

BAD BOSS - He's moody and can be set off by the most trivial things, kind of like a spoiled brat.

GOOD BOSS - He listens to all intelligent feedback and input from his staff, and accepts constructive criticism with grace and understanding.

BAD BOSS - He lives in a world of his own, takes all criticism personally, and attacks his critics in front of others. He ignores even the best ideas if they didn't originate with him.

I've only had a couple of female bosses, so my sample size is small, but the women I've reported to seemed to have a generally more empathetic attitude toward their charges and have been great to work for and with. Not that they're all perfect, but every one of the bad boss traits I've described has been taken from real-life managers I've reported to, from sales managers to owners. And, with one exception, they've all been men. But in the interest of gender equity, I've uses both masculine and feminine pronouns.

What about all of you? I'd be interested in some of your good boss/bad boss experiences, and while it may be a cliche, it's not the gender of the boss that matters, it's the heart and character that form the most important aspect of the good boss/bad boss criteria.

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