Are You an Exceptional Boss?

One of the main drivers of being an exceptional boss and also attaining success is interpersonal skills, and more specifically, Versatility. Managers with high Versatility are 27% better at establishing effective relationships, 27% more effective as a team leader, 22% better at managing conflict and 20% more effective with their communication. Learn more with our Managerial Success Story.

So what do exceptional bosses do differently than great bosses? In Jeff Haden’s LinkedIn article, he lists 9 hidden qualities of exceptional bosses, let’s look at three of the skills Haden identified:

  • They forgive… and they forget.” Humans are wired with a negativity bias, and for every negative interaction we have, it takes three kind or positive acts to overcome it.[i] But as James Joyce once said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” and exceptional bosses also know this to be true. One mistake or weakness doesn’t define an entire person. According to Jeff Haden, “Exceptional bosses are also able to forget th[e] mistake, because they know that viewing any employee through the lens of one incident may forever impact how they treat that employee.”
  • They look past the action to uncover the emotion or motivation.” In most circumstances, when an employee is making numerous or massive mistakes it’s not just because they randomly feel like acting recklessly. There is a deeper underlying issue or some sort of disconnect to the company’s vision. Maybe they feel disrespected, taken for granted, unheard or overworked. An exceptional boss digs for the ulterior motives behind the actions. In another TRACOM blog, “Why Great Leaders Make Their Employees Feel Safe” we discuss how great leaders look out for their employees similarly to how a parent looks out for their child. When we feel safe inside the organizations in which we work, we are more likely to go above and beyond to protect our organization. Leaders who invest in their employees will find that their employees, in turn, invest in them.
  • They support without seeking credit.” Exceptional bosses know that their accomplishments are the effects of a hardworking team, and they give credit to every single member who makes achieving success possible.

Being an exceptional boss has a trickle-down effect. An extraordinary boss produces exceptional employees. These exceptional employees will one day become leaders too. Having had experienced firsthand what working with an outstanding boss was like, they will emulate those behaviors, and even expand upon them to become better. The same is true in reverse, less-than exceptional bosses will harvest less-than exceptional employees who go off to be sub-par managers. So which boss will you be?


[i] Baumeister, F.F. Bratlavsky, E., Finenauer, C.c & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5. 323-370.

Frederickson, B. (2009). Positivity. New York: Crown