The alumni community has a lot to say when it comes to talking about what makes a good boss – and what behaviours we should aspire to as we climb the career ladder.
Employers and employees alike seemed to agree that a good management style isn’t just giving out orders, but about taking an interest in their teams and being fair and respectful.
“Overall, being a decent human is pretty important in many jobs – fairness, consistency, and respect for all levels,” said one alumnus, a Managing Director of a London-based start-up.
“In my opinion great bosses share most of the same attributes as great teachers,” agreed another, explaining: “They take an interest in you and your personal development; They set you clear and stretching goals and check in with you regularly to see how you’re doing, offering support and mentoring when it’s needed; they praise and reward you appropriately when you do well or better than expected, but never shy away from telling it like it is when you don’t do as well as you could have done.”
“I’d say the most important thing is that they listen to what you say and take it on board. They don’t disregard what you put forward to them because you’re young or inexperienced. They treat you with a level of respect and importance,”said another alumnus and Director.
“A boss should be trustworthy, always open and honest, someone who backs up his people, and also knows how to hire the right people and keep them motivated.”
Motivation was a key factor for many of the alumni. “A good boss must be a leader and should always find different way to motivate his co-workers,” said one former student.
There were also strong opinions on how a boss should motivate their team, and how they should approach leadership.
One alumnus felt that micro-management was a failing in a boss.
“For me, a good boss needs to be able to manage by understanding their team’s strengths and weaknesses and utilising these to get the best from them,” they said. “Micro-management of skilled people is not required and management by fear doesn’t work either, as [while] you may get a result, with co-operative management you get so much more. Saying ‘thank you’ for a good job never goes amiss either. Finally, you need to be able to lead by example and do all the tasks that you would expect your team to do.”
Having a boss who shares the workload was also a common theme amongst alumni. “Taking and understanding responsibilities and duties is important,” said one. “They should also be determined and a good planner.
“Someone who takes responsibility for the failures but gives the praise for success to their team makes a good boss,”another argued. “Someone who has a clear vision of where they are taking the organisation, and can articulate that simply and clearly so that others can understand it and buy in. Someone who sets high standards and holds people to account for them. Someone who knows how to coach, develop, lead and manage a team.”
And finally, “the best bosses can adapt their management style to different team members – a fixed approach won’t get the best from all.”