HR Leaders

Let’s face it, being a boss gets harder and harder with every passing year. The world, the workplace, and the roles keep changing, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, another change, challenge, or requirement comes your way. Add it all up, and being a boss is more difficult than ever!

So how do you support your bosses on their quest and their journey to be great? What can you do to set them up for success instead of failure, to enrich lives and not ruin them? To answer this, let me share with you what I call the 4 A’s of being a great boss. I hope you find them helpful as you develop and/or review your management development strategy and approach.

  1. Awareness

According to our survey, 99.6% of people have had a bad boss, so pretty much everyone. But if you asked these bosses, I’d be surprised if they actually knew their people were thinking of them in this way, considering them a bad boss. For this reason, the starting point for being a great boss is awareness in two ways:

  • Aware of the existence of bad boss traits – There’s no denying that bad bosses exist, that the majority and not the minority of us have bad boss traits. And that’s because when it comes to being a boss it’s never either/or, all, or nothing. We all have a mix of traits, some bad, some good, and some great. They come and go based on the situation, the person, and even what’s happening in our lives. The key is helping your bosses be aware of any bad boss traits they may have, seeing them instead of ignoring them.
  • Aware of the impact of bad boss traits – Equally important is for your bosses to be aware of the impact that being a bad boss can have on their people. How does it impact performance, engagement and even wellbeing? Raise this, discuss this, help your bosses see the often hidden harm that their actions can have on their people.
  1. Acceptance

From here we move to acceptance, accepting those bad boss traits that we have been made aware of. On the surface this may seem easy, all you have to do is admit and accept that you have these traits. But the results from our survey show that this can be difficult to do. For although 80% of respondents admitted being a bad boss, when we drilled down and asked how many of the 10 types of bad bosses they felt they’ve been, only 22% on average admitted to being each.

For acceptance to happen, encourage your bosses to start by thinking, “Is this me?” instead of putting up their defenses and thinking, “Nah, it couldn’t possibly be me.” Have them think of it as an opportunity, and not a punishment.

  1. Action

We next move to the step involving action, where bosses need to learn and leverage the right knowledge, skills, and tools to become great and overcome their bad boss traits. Key here is having the right tools (or building blocks as I call them) to meet the changing demands of the role, making them flexible so that as the need arises they can access them easily and use them as they see fit.

  1. Accountability

Let me end with the final ‘A,’ accountability, which has two parts to it. The first is having each boss take personal ownership and responsibility for their development and improvement, doing what it takes to overcome their bad boss traits. The second is having the business put in place accountability measures as well. I say this because too often bad boss behaviors are allowed, with no consequences or repercussions. If we are ever going to rid the world of bad bosses, this needs to change. We need to pushback, we cannot and should not tolerate bad boss behaviors and actions. By doing this we not only help our bosses be great, but we also show our people that they are our number one priority.

If you’d like to learn more about our free and confidential online assessment tool, see more results from our survey, or download the first chapter of our book, please go to:

About the Author

Debra Corey is an award-winning HR consultant, speaker and co-author of Bad Bosses Ruin Lives: The Building Blocks for Being a Great Boss.