Often people are thrown into supervisory roles without realizing how much work and interpersonal skills are really needed to manage people!
Most employees want a boss who will be responsive, understand different working styles, and provide feedback on a regular basis (e.g. tell employees how they are doing and how they should improve). Employees also want a positive working environment and a place where they can feel safe.
I think everyone has the potential to become a great boss. It just takes a shift from focusing on the work itself to focusing on the employees who are doing the work. Being a great boss also requires the knowledge and understanding that each person within an organization is at a different developmental, emotional, and expertise stage. A great boss needs to be able to meet each employee where they are at. This is not easy.
The same is true for employees. In order to recognize a great boss, employees need to be able to receive feedback and be willing to take the next step in their job or go to the next developmental, emotional, or expertise stage.
My boss is busy, she runs a research center, she meets with funders, and she supervises six doctoral students. She could just focus on the work, but instead she takes the time to meet with us individually and also meet with us as a group.
Last week she sat down with me to go over my work plan for the coming school year. This meeting meant a lot to me because she told me about her plan for me in my new role. Now that I am Research Associate she wants me to supervise other doctoral students in certain research projects. She also wants me to improve my flexibility skills in the workplace (e.g. be willing to work on other projects at a moments notice). This meeting and feedback where very meaningful to me. My boss took the time to encourage me to go to the next stage of my research and my supervision skills.
Hopefully this post will inspire you to become a great boss, because the everyday encounters and meetings that you have with your employees can improve the overall morale and productivity of your organization.