Anyone with experience or credentials can be a manager, but not everyone can be a good boss. To earn that title, you must do more than delegate responsibilities and keep track of your team.
"A great boss contributes to the growth of [their] company and [their] people," said Ora Shtull, International Coach Federation-credentialed executive coach. If you want to be a great boss – a true leader – practice these four habits.
1. Work with your employees.
You might be used to having full control over your workload, but becoming a boss will force you to give up that control and delegate some responsibilities, said Shtull.
"If you don't break the addiction to doing it all, you won't have the capacity to step up and do more senior stuff," she said. "Letting go involves delegating. But it's important to note that delegating doesn't mean deserting the team or sacrificing accountability."
You deserve to be a respected manager with less daunting responsibilities than an entry-level position, but you should still get your hands dirty. Working with your employees builds better relationships, and helps you learn about the strengths and weakness of each team member. Your employees will also trust you more if they feel you're working with them rather than above them.
"By choosing to lead by example and demonstrating that [you] are an expert at what [you] are asking employees to do, it will often result in more respect and productivity," said Sacha Ferrandi, founding partner of Source Capital Funding Inc. "It's impossible to deny that the work ethic of a boss is contagious – if you work hard for them, they are more likely to return the favor and work hard for you."
2. Give credit where it's due.
Good bosses recognize their employees and express their gratitude whenever possible. Employees want to feel appreciated and have their work noticed. When you credit them for a job well done, it motivates them to keep working hard.
"Simply put, great bosses pause frequently to praise others and promote the positive, rather than harping on shortcomings and mistakes," said Shtull.
If you fail to give positive feedback, employees think their work is unnoticed and will start caring less.
"If you want more employees to be loyal to you, be loyal to them first by recognizing their accomplishments," said David Long, CEO of MyEmployees. "Everyone wants significance. Give it to them, or you'll lose them to someone who will."
3. Be a good communicator.
Great bosses are transparent. They set expectations and effectively communicate with team members to ensure everyone is on the same page while allowing their employees to operate in a way that works best for them, said Andrea Fredrickson, president of Revela.
"This keeps employees focused on the results without dictating the process," Fredrickson said. "Employees can find the best ways of meeting expectations and [creating] improvements to processes."
It's important to have individual chats with team members to strategize and deliver criticism and praise. Regularly check in with team members to ensure they are happy and feel challenged in their role. Communication is not one-sided; you must listen as much as you talk.
"Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say, nothing to add," said Shtull. "In addition to giving up control of all the work, as a boss, you'll also have to break the addiction to being right all of the time. Don't always promote your own view. If your own ideas sound set in stone, your team members won't want to offer theirs."
4. Coach your team.
To create a valuable, dedicated team, you'll have to advocate for them. Like good coaches, bosses should keep employees motivated and passionate about the work they do. This will help your team avoid burnout and enjoy delivering their best work.
"Effective managers coach by asking questions, empowering their team members to think deeply and generate solutions," said Shtull. "In turn, team members gain confidence and grow, and, ultimately, become amazing bosses themselves."
Let employees know you care about their future and career. Provide them with the training and knowledge they need to succeed in the workplace.
"An effective boss works hard on training their employees early on so they can then give [employees] the autonomy to work through their roles in their own way," said Lionel Marsanne, CEO of CimAlp. "You can be there for them when they ask for help, but make sure to coach and guide them instead of taking over."
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan, Chad Brooks and Saige Driver. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.