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Lead Your Team Managing

16 Signs You're a Great Boss

16 Signs You're a Great Boss
Credit: lculig/Shutterstock

Have you ever asked yourself, "Am I a good boss?" and felt unsure of the answer? The reality is, it's hard to tell how you measure up. Everyone has different opinions on leadership, and unless your employees are telling you exactly how they feel about you, there's no way to know what they're thinking. The good news is, there are a lot of little characteristics that make up a good boss, and if you've got things like trustworthiness and compassion on your side, you're probably doing all right. 

Not sure how you stack up? Here are 16 signs you're a great boss, according to business and leadership experts.

"[A great boss] is somebody who puts the human before the job. They understand that life sometimes gets in the way. They give you leeway during the tough times, and have enough confidence in you to know that you’ll try to make up for it in the future." – Matthew Mercuri, Digital Marketing Manager, DUPRAY

"People you supervise feel comfortable bouncing ideas off you, sharing feedback, saying 'I don't know' and admitting mistakes. All these things make you a 'great' boss because workers are able to be themselves, take risks and share openly. All this leads to terrific productivity — without the stress and fear of failure, making mistakes, [or] not knowing [something], people are able to take risks, where the most important work and discoveries come." –Laura MacLeod, HR expert and creator, From The Inside Out Project

"The best leaders are those that are most aware of what motivates them and their decision-making. Self-awareness is a mandatory trait for successful leaders. Yet, fostering self-awareness isn’t easy for some people." – Matt Poepsel, performance psychologist and vice president of product management, The Predictive Index

"When others — clients, shoppers, etc. — observe or walk by, they can't tell who the boss is because a good boss will roll up their sleeves and pitch in right alongside their employees." – April Boyd-Noronha, author, "Good Bosses Gone Bad: How To Survive The Workplace When Your Boss Sucks" (AuthorHouse, 2012)

"When we get a great employee, we want to keep them where they are because they are so productive, despite it likely not being in their best interest [over the] long term. Try to look at things from their perspective, and mold the position you have for them into something that they can continue to grow into. If they've stopped learning and developing, they won't stay with you for very long. Sometimes, you can support their growth within your company, and sometimes, the next logical step is for them to move on to another opportunity." – Evan Carmichael, founder, Evancarmichael.com

"Great bosses give feedback — the good, the bad and the ugly. You know that spinach leaf that gets stuck in your teeth after lunch? Don't you want someone to tell you about it? Your direct reports want feedback, and it's crucial in making your team as productive as possible." – Brad Karsh, president, JB Training Solutions

"Besides getting things done and meeting performance objectives, you must shepherd your people through every hard turn. Your principal rewards for success are keeping your job and receiving even more responsibilities and challenges. The best bosses keep chipping away at a huge pile of tasks — some interesting, others dull but necessary." – Maynard Brusman, consulting psychologist and executive coach, Working Resources [See Related Story: 27 Ways to Be a Better Boss ]

"Too many bosses approach their role from either overconfidence or insecurity — either believing that they can't show any vulnerability [or] their directions won't be respected, or being too deferential, worried that no one will follow their lead if they are too bossy. But the best bosses are aware of their own blind spots and challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zone in order to build trust and motivate others to follow their lead from their own willingness, not because they are the boss." – Nihar K. Chhaya, president, PartnerExec

"A good boss has to check their ego at the door and be able to hire and surround themselves with people that are more knowledgeable and more skilled than they are. I'm a firm believer in building teams of mini CEOs, empowering employees to make critical decisions and have the autonomy to do it all. Also, being able to give up control and let others run with ideas and programs is key to fostering this mini-CEO mentality." – Jessica Mah, CEO and co-founder, inDinero.com

"To be a good boss, you must be transparent. There's a correlation between worker happiness and workplace transparency. Leaders and managers who offer transparency will earn the respect and devotion of their team." – David Niu, founder, TINYpulse

"What truly makes a boss isn't an ability to delegate nor an ability to manage tasks, employees, work remits or daily schedules. What makes a fantastic boss is the ability to inspire ... and it's a rarity. Inspiration — whether through action, speech or email — brings all of the above into focus and actionable. A boss that can seek to inspire a team — no matter what industry, sector or job focus — is one that will see results. It's easy to manage people, but to inspire takes some true skill and yet pays off in spades." – Zachary Weiner, CEO, Emerging Insider Communications

"A great boss promotes employees and their accomplishments without fear that their own value to the company will be diminished. They believe that when employees feel appreciated, they will work harder, smarter and with greater loyalty." – Roy Cohen, career counselor and executive coach

"Try to create a clear structure for each employee. [Make] sure that they know what their job responsibility is, train them on it and keep them focused on the job at hand. In some places, when you are constantly giving them new tasks and changing their job responsibility, they get confused, and this is counterproductive." – Sean Hopwood, president, DayTranslations.com

"Communication is a two-way street. Understand that it is up to you to communicate your expectations to your employees, as well as being receptive to the concerns of those under you. A good leader is an approachable one who shows genuine concern to the issues facing employees. I’d much rather have employees feel comfortable enough to knock on my door than watch them fail because of unclear directions." – Vick Vaishnavi, president and CEO, Yottaa

"A good boss draws people out. Charisma is measured by your ability to release others into a more enjoyable state of communicating. A good boss does this by being curious, asking questions, listening and being positive. Researchers at MIT have found that upbeat people who are sincerely interested in what other people have to say have natural charisma, and they are successful in negotiations and presentations. A boss has a serious handicap in conversation if he/she is not curious about the other person." – Lou Solomon, founder and CEO, Interact

"[A good boss] asks for feedback and suggestions, and then actually takes them! Too often, leaders simply pay lip service to asking for feedback but don't ever do anything about it. Great leaders show their associates that their opinions are valued, that they are respected and that they are being listened to. This helps associates realize they are making a difference, which is fast becoming more and more of a factor for higher engagement as more millennials join the workforce." – Sandy Geroux, motivational speaker and CEO, WOWplace International

Business News Daily senior writer Chad Brooks also contributed to this story. 

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.