Top 5 Skills That Only the Best Bosses Know

Top 5 Skills That Only the Best Bosses Know

Whether you are a boss or you report to one, most people have an idea in their mind of what a good boss is. 

Better yet, most know exactly what’s what a good boss is not! 

When dealing with a bad boss, you can feel the impact. Even if you are just watching someone else going through it.  Bad bosses can inspire fear, create tense environments, and overall make work a terrible place to be.

If you carry a title of leadership, it is an excellent opportunity to inspire the best in others. And to create an atmosphere or culture that makes the job a place others want to be.

Let’s examine a few exceptional skills that can make the difference in your being the best boss you can be!

Best Boss Skill#1:  Give and Then Give More

As a leader, you may expect to give direction or delegate assignments. But you may not always think specifically to give of yourself.

A boss who is willing to truly be elbow-to-elbow with their team creates an environment of teamwork, loyalty, and approachability well beyond expectation.

People respond better to collaboration than dictatorship.  And, if given a choice, would prefer to have access to a supportive personality than an indifferent one.

Related Article: How to Survive Working for a Boss You Hate

While every employee may not jump at the chance to spend time with their boss, those that need you most will. 

Giving of yourself can show itself by spending extra time to provide training.

Or being open to answering questions, big or small.  It can also be key when another set of hands helps to knock out a huge project on time.

Giving more can include support outside of business when life issues arise.  An empathic ear one day can make the difference for the entire week.  

You can also be a better giver when sharing your expertise.  Volunteer to mentor a rising star employee or a new leader in the company.  Or schedule time with your own staff who are looking to expand their skills.

Consider giving as a key component of your job and be prepared for the return on investment to become limitless.

Best Boss Skill#2: Listen More Than You Speak

Great bosses are exceptionally good listeners.

While you may be the final say on certain decisions, great bosses know they are not the only voice worth hearing.

Regardless of age or tenure, people respect having their thoughts and opinions included in the process.

Providing opportunities for open forum shared ideas and entertained proposals are crucial to fostering creativity and innovation in any environment.

The more that people are heard, the more they feel included and valued.

Becoming an excellent listener not only gives another speaker the floor. It also signals that you actually want to hear what they have to say.

A good listener demonstrates active listening with engaged eye contact, repeating content for clarity, and affirming with body language. 

We all have an interpretation of what looking like you are listening looks like.   Great bosses do that!

When you build the habit of listening, you also benefit yourself. 

Listening well trains you in the skills of perception, interpretation, and assessment. 

As you listen you gain insight into those you speak with. 

You learn what motivates others, how they interpret their world, and what causes them to become demotivated or distracted. 

Some employees like to talk more than they like to do.  Others have great ideas but don’t know how to execute them.  Still others are brilliant problem solvers and result achievers. 

And all of them can switch places based on the situation or even the day of the week.

Listening well keeps you tapped in to those around you. Now uou can better connect with them personally and gain the most from them professionally.

Learning others better and others sharing openly with you can improve the communication and connectivity with those whom you lead.

Best Boss Skill#3: Show Up As Yourself

Authenticity is the new black. 

Everyone is calling for it and, yet, so many still fear owning their true selves for public consumption.

Do you have a work-self and a home-self?  Why?

Okay, there are times when you at your most relaxed could most certainly get you fired.  Understood.

But there is also such a thing as traveling so far away from your center that you become a completely different person.

Your job should require the share of your skills not the shedding of your soul.

And for those who report to you, it can be hard to fall in sync with someone who becomes a different person every time someone new comes through the door.  

When you are consistently your genuine self, those who work for and with you know and learn you better.

Knowing your boss allows you to fall in sync with both their personality and their expectations.

As a boss, it is important to know that you direct people both by your words and your actions.  Your facial expressions, tone of voice, and impromptu reactions are all indicators that can be interpreted as how you really feel.

A falsely represented boss will often change these traits due to the work environment, their boss, or their perception of what a boss should be.

The problem, inevitably, is when you are a fake you, the real you shows up too.  And that is just too many people for your staff to figure out.

This carousel of characters leads to you being one person one day and someone else the next.

And what does that mean for your employees???

They have no idea what boss they are getting any day of the week.

Your lack of authenticity can lead to employees feeling disconnected, unstable, and unsure in response to you.

But when you are authentic, even on your bad days, you can create the best environment.

Reading Your Boss is a Real Thing

When you are the same person every day and you are genuine in your thoughts and opinions, your people can learn how you tick. 

Knowing the real you, they also know what to expect. 

And over time, those who are invested in getting their work done well, will know the signals from you of what you like and don’t.

In the world of work, knowing what your boss prefers gives everyone peace. 

Your authentic self also has other benefits. 

You become more approachable and relatable when you are not wearing a façade. 

The benefits of this is not only in how others work for you.  It can even impact others to want to be like you. 

If you appear as a relatable and real figure others can see themselves as you and feel that what you have achieved may one day be achievable by them.

Be a better boss, mentor, and person by making a practice of being yourself.

Best Boss Skill#4: Be Accountable to People Not Business

While this may be a hard truth to digest, you do not work for your business.  You are employed by your business, but, as a leader, you work for your staff.

If you are not sure how this works, let’s look at the facts.

Your employer has provided you with a scope of responsibility and an expectation of output or productivity in your area of command.

You are not meant to produce independently but to properly direct others and yourself to reach the assigned target.  Ok. Got it.

Now, in your day-to-day, you have to execute to make it happen.

And you cannot make it happen without your people.

Even with all of these facts, many will still not see where the accountability shifts from the business to the people.  But let’s look at why this is also reality.

Your people need you to direct them on what the goals are.  They need you to explain tasks that they do not know or objectives they would not otherwise have gotten if not by you.

When they don’t understand, you need to answer their questions.  If they make an error, they need to know how to communicate to you so that goals are still met.

Even if you do not directly impact your area’s process flow, your oversight can make the difference in how things are run.

If you are not accountable for being the boss that oversees, leads, directs, and responds to your people, you are not being the best boss you can be.

Further, the closer in touch you are with what your people do, the better you are able to be a resource to them overall. 

Knowing their work, their struggles and obstacles, and the subtle nuances to get through each day makes a difference.

This is more than leading, it’s integrating in a meaningful way.

When you display this level of accountability to the team you become a solid resource for them.  You are now doing what you are employed to do.

And just like that accountability to your people makes you the boss that wins over and over again.

Best Boss Skill #5:  Be a Fearless Failure

Failing is a part of life that no one likes but everyone does. 

The best failures are those that prepare you for future success.

As a boss, being brave enough to admit your failures can be crucial to bonding with your team.

Most fail more often on tasks that are new for them in some way.  It could be something never done before, a new process, or a higher volume than in the past.

Less often people fail on things that they have done a million times but make a random mistake.

In either scenario, admitting failure provides the opportunity to see what rising from failure looks like.  As a boss, it is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate honesty, integrity, and fearlessness in the process.

Doing too much and failing can create a new opportunity of working collaboratively with others in the future.

If you have failed from a lack of knowledge, asking others for input can show how ingenuity and innovation are formed.

When a new process flow breaks down, you can learn better ways to evaluate effectiveness, thoroughly audit, or measure performance.

Failure can be of benefit when you learn from it and become better as an individual or as a team.

A boss who fails fearlessly and recovers gallantly can be a role model to others. 

Both relatable and admirable, a boss who falls with grace can inspire others to take on challenges with confidence.


Whether you have recently been promoted or have been leading others for years, there is always an opportunity to be the best boss you can be.

Being boss is more than telling others what to do, but owning all aspects of influence that you have on your team.

Being authentic, accountable to others, and fearless when facing failure are all ways that you can connect with your team and create a culture of openness and comfort.

When team members feel empowered and supported to succeed, they will see you not only as a boss but as a mentor and trusted colleague.

Give the best of yourself to your team and reap the benefits of success that only the best bosses get to achieve.

Are you a boss that gives the most with the best skills? Share your best practices in the Comments below and help someone else become the best at being boss too!