Great Bosses Honor Relationships

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Photo © Olivier Le Moal. All Rights Reserved

Would your employees say you are a great boss?

I define a great boss as a person who creates and maintains a safe, inspiring work environment where talented, engaged employees THRIVE.  In this environment, employees perform 40% better, serve customers better (40% or more) and deliver results and profits by 35% or more than in a frustrating, demeaning, soul-quashing work environment.

The characteristics of GREAT bosses include Growth, Relationships, ExcellenceAccountability and  Teamwork. Let's look at relationships.


A great boss realizes that a positive relationship based on shared values creates more trust and respect in the workplace. They work to build these positive relationships and expect the same from their team members.  Without this mutual trust and respect, coopoeration disappears.

A great boss manages EVERY team player’s:

  • Hands (getting stuff done) – the usual focus most of the time
  • Heads (strategy and goals) – a smart focus, some of the time
  • Hearts (values and connection) – a vital focus, not done nearly enough

Many team members spend more time at work than they do with their close circle of trust (families and friends.) It is discouraging if they do not feel honored and respected by the people with whom they spend the most time.

Great bosses understand that trust and respect are fragile. These qualities must be cultivated daily to remain healthy and vibrant with every player.  I have seen a few bosses do it very well. Here’s how.

They create values standards.

Great bosses create clear performance expectations but go further by creating values standards as well.  It is not easy to manage an employee’s attitude (that’s primarily intrinsic), but they can, and do, define the behaviors expected to demonstrate the values.  By creating clarity on how a good corporate citizen behaves, employees know exactly what is expected of them.  For example, “integrity” is an often used value in business. However, what does that look like? A great boss goes another stop to define that it means, “I tell the truth” or “I keep my commitments.”  When these behaviors are demonstrated, relationships thrive.

They demand civility & encourage validation.

Bickering, dismissiveness, and bullying (from bosses or team members) erode workplace safety and inspiration. A great boss requires civility by demonstrating valued behaviors in every interaction. They honor other’s ideas and efforts regularly. This does not mean highly aligned teams do not debate (even loudly!), but they never invalidate a team member or their boss.

They appreciate personal lives and passions.

Great bosses understand and respect a team members passions outside the workplace. They appropriately show interest in their personal lives and families (i.e. milestones and celebrations.)  One former boss of mine asked the team if we would support another team member who would be coaching a soccer team every Thursday afternoon. For two months, we all cheered on this coach, who left at 3 pm every Thursday. Not once did he miss a deadline, because he managed his workload and came in early–and knew his colleagues were supportive rather than resentful of the flexibility given to him for this purpose.

They demonstrate “tough love.”

While great bosses are civil, they do not let team members “off the hook” for not meeting commitments. They know everyone must maintain his or her contributions for the whole team to succeed. They prepare for the unexpected of course and refine as needed, but they expect the team to live up to their part of success.

How about you? Have you experienced a great boss? If not, become one!

Photo © Olivier Le Moal. All Rights Reserved

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading and managing successful business teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Under Chris’ guidance, culture clients have consistently boosted their customer satisfaction and employee engagement rates by 40 percent or more and results and profits by 35 percent or more.