First let me correct my title — I would prefer the phrasing, “Are you the boss people want to work with?” because “with” sends a message of partnership and collaboration rather the servitude. Let’s hope we’re past the later.

I’ve spent most of my career(s), be it in a corporate environment, the not-for-profit arena, and as an entrepreneur, observing and aspiring to the behavior of people I saw as excellent leaders, managers, and supervisors, aka bosses. While they may have been different in their styles and skills, they had a number of things in common.

They all were...

Transparent: Nothing gets employees more anxious and distracted than the sense they are being kept in the dark or selectively or occasionally being informed. Whether the workplace operates on a “need to know” basis, secrecy mode, or failure to share, this lack of informing makes doing the right thing at the right time, in the right spirit, almost impossible. Transparency shows respect, trust, and a desire to involve all parties. It doesn’t mean everyone must know all details about every aspect but it does attempt to get all involved. Leaders hate surprises and so do the people that work under them. Transparent leaders close doors less, think out loud, and narrate. They attempt to show as much as is reasonable while respecting confidentiality and security, and attempt to behave in a way that is honest. Transparency gives participants a view of the big and small pictures rather than a curated glimpse. It also says, “There is nothing to hide.”

Communicative: It’s almost impossible to be a great leader without being a great communicator. History backs me. People want to work with managers who use all modes of communication — e-mail, one on one, phone calls, huddles, town meetings, and more. It’s one of the reasons I am such a strong advocate of the morning huddle (10 minutes, all hands on deck, everyone standing, with each member telling the group the status of what they are working on, what challenges they have, and where they may need help or support). Great managers meet individually with their direct reports, on a regular basis (at least once a week and then with that person’s team), with an agenda and consistent format. Managers who tell me, “I don’t have time for that,” I ask, “What could be more important?” Excellent communicators also know which form of communication, and where and when, works best for a situation. The adage praise publically, admonish privately still has validity. Before communicating a message think, “What would be the best way for the receiver?” rather than what is the most expeditious or easiest for me? A great communicator paints a picture, speaks in the language of the listener. They have an array of styles for delivery and then apply them to specific situations and audiences. Communicators are frequent sharers of ideas, facts, and emotions.

Supportive: Great bosses are supportive. They don’t necessarily agree with their employees all the time, yet there is a spirit of wanting them to succeed and the willingness to help. Supportive managers fight for their staff and back them up even at the risk of not following the politics. They act as a heat shield from the fires above and filter negative energy. They have high tolerances for difference of individual styles and perspectives. In fact they welcome it. This type of leader gives more credit than they take. They say “we” more than “I”. They have an appreciation that employees have lives outside the workplace and they show interest and flexibility around it. Their behavior says, “I’ve got your back.”

Approachable: Approachable managers hear and learn from those they work with. There is no fear and less anxiety when things are going wrong because trouble is shared. Employees feel they can be themselves around their boss. There is no fear of retribution or reprisal. People enjoy working for the approachable boss and they’ll share casual conversation and personal trials and triumphs with them just as they would a colleague. The approachable boss is aware of his/her body language and strives for one that is receptive — relaxed with open palms, good eye contact, and an eagerness to listen. Their workspace is barricade-free, with seating, and faces the group. This person walks around, changing their route often. They start casual conversations and always greet others. They encourage interaction. Everything they do says, “Share with me”.

People want to work for and with a person who acts in a way that is transparent, approachable, and supportive. They need a communicator who translates and transports information and perspectives. If you are doing all of this, then you are most likely the boss everyone wants to work with. If you’re not, don’t dismay, leaders are sometimes born but mainly bred and raised, and it’s never too late to learn the skills and behaviors.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.