logo image

ATD Blog

Are You a Good Boss?


Mon Jul 08 2013

Are You a Good Boss?-7abbe7b0c8453ab069b7dcba0f1f908450b66389e2c3c99cbcc6b264b38d303f

How do you know that you’re a good boss? There is good reason to ask this question and to be honest with ourselves about the answer.

We have an obligation—yes, a duty—to our companies, to those with whom we work, and certainly to our direct reports to be a good boss.


Good bosses = good leaders

I love this often-quoted concept of leadership:

“To inspire your workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are not resting on their laurels.”

Keep in mind that everyone wants to do well, and to be successful. We, as good bosses (which should mean good leaders) should provide all the help we can toward this end. If the skills we need to help others succeed do not come naturally to us, we are obligated to work toward improvement. And even if we already are good at helping to develop others, we still should seek to improve. Striving for continuous improvement is the path to success.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Sure, some people have had their spirits dampened and have lost their motivation. Some even may seem completely resistant to our help. Yet even if only in small, subtle ways, we can encourage and coach these people, provide guidance and inspiration to improve their confidence, and help motivate them to succeed.


Bosses need balance to lead effectively. I just finished the book, Heads, by Russell Reynolds. I have the privilege of knowing Russ and have the highest regard for his character and integrity. I am particularly pleased that he states that the most successful people have balance in their lives—a satisfying work-life in the context of good health, a solid family, good friends, and financial stability.

Russ follows with these qualities, which he feels are essential to business equilibrium:

  • Character

  • Feet on the ground

  • Good values

  • Direction, meeting expectations

  • Consideration of others

  • Ambition

  • Dedication

  • Good reflexes, knowing what is the important thing to do next

  • Sound education

  • Inner confidence

  • Humility

  • Self-knowledge, self-awareness

Russ also mentions the importance of being a giver, or helping others.

How do we know what kind of a boss we are? With the obligation to be a good leader, I believe you also have a duty to determine if in fact you are a good boss—not just in your mind, but in reality.

  • More importantly, how do those with whom you work perceive you?

  • How helpful do they think you are?

  • How much do they respect you as a leader?

In my opinion, the most effective way to truly determine the perception of your effectiveness as a leader is through a 360-degree assessment. It’s anonymous and confidential, so you can get thoughtful and honest answers, and you will learn what you do well and what you can do better. In sum, a 360 is a unique personal development opportunity and a worthwhile investment.


A 360 sets the opportunity to truly strive for continuous improvement. It requires you to cultivate humility—the acceptance that there are things you could do better—which leads to being a good boss and a good leader.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy