10 lessons from good bosses!

We believe that there is something to learn from everyone. That doesn’t mean that everything you learn is positive, as we discussed in our Lessons from Bad Bosses article. But here we wanted to emphasize the positive and learn from good bosses!

Having worked for at least two dozen chefs over the years, a quick sort through shows that I thought half of them were good and the other half were either bad or not-so-good.

We’ve also published a few dozen of our Seasoned Leadership in Action™ interviews here. These interviews also highlight the outstanding behaviors and traits of those who are great leaders and bosses themselves.

Whether you’re an aspiring chef, a new chef, or a seasoned chef, there are lessons everyone can learn.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 positive leadership qualities we’ve observed in people we’ve worked for and people we’ve worked with.

1. You are strong in delegation and empowerment

For my part, I don’t like micromanagement. Of course I accept that I will be held accountable for what I do and that I have to answer for this work. But I don’t want my boss constantly looking over my shoulder and interfering with what I’m working on.

I prefer a boss who I can agree on the goals and metrics with and who then gives me the freedom and empowerment to get the job done.

2. You have your back

Good bosses have your back. There are many forces that can derail you or anything you are working on, especially when you make significant changes that upset the sacred cows and old ways of doing things.

These bosses provide you with air cover. They support you in challenges, criticism and politics. You have your back.

3. You are inspirational

In order to get things done, you need to inspire your employees, your colleagues, and the organization at large. This inspiration draws people to you and motivates them to do things that would otherwise not be thought possible.

These bosses often, but not always, rule the room. On the other hand, they may be more introverted. Regardless, they can inspire through their words and actions.

4. You put others first

Of course, everyone has their own personal goals and ambitions. But great bosses put others first. They’re obviously not just out for themselves. They make sacrifices and make a concerted effort to take care of their employees and help them in any way that is necessary.

5. You are genuine and trustworthy

Politics always plays a role in every organization, big or small. And your boss needs to be able to navigate the political minefield. But through all of this, your boss can be trusted.

You can trust what they say and you can trust what they do. You may not always agree with what your boss is doing, but you can trust him to come from a place where you can trust him to do what he thinks is right.

6. You do the right thing, not just the popular

Great bosses have great integrity in the face of immense pressure. They don’t do what their bosses tell them to do when it’s wrong. They remain steadfast, even if it costs them their job in extreme cases.

I faced exactly this situation. My new boss did some very improper and unethical things. I could neither approve nor support this behavior, which was visible to all, and therefore left the company alone, with all integrity.

7. They challenge the status quo

There are many forces in any organization who are content to do things the way they have always been done, even if they complain about it. The Great Boss observes these situations objectively and makes the bold decision to challenge the status quo.

If you want different results, you have to do different things. Bosses are rarely there to manage a situation as it is and not make improvements. They are usually there to drive change, improvement, and increases in efficiency and productivity. And they have the courage to tackle those barriers head-on.

8. You see the big picture

These bosses can see both the forest and the trees. You are able to see and understand any situation from a much broader perspective. While others are immersed in the details and have a very narrow perspective, great bosses bring the ability to see the situation from a much higher vantage point.

This allows these bosses to look at the larger context and dynamic, and provide valuable insight and perspective that may not be obvious to those working in the weeds of a situation.

9. You share

Great bosses don’t hoard their knowledge, experience, or rewards. you share them. They understand that an important part of their role is to help and develop others. The more they share, the stronger their people and organizations become, making them even more important and powerful.

You take care of people freely. They give of their minds, time and resources.

10. They model a positive work-life balance

There’s more to life than just work. Being a workaholic often doesn’t get you that far and eventually leads to burnout. Good bosses know that they must set an example and expect a positive work-life balance. Employees who have this balance will be more productive, happier, and more motivated.

When the boss expects you to work weekends, be on call 24/7, and be available at all times, then they are invading your personal time and space. Good bosses don’t do that. They certainly don’t do this out of habit.


As we said at the beginning of this article, you can learn anything from anyone. Bad bosses can teach you about the behaviors you don’t want to emulate. With good bosses, you can learn about the behaviors you want to copy and embed into your work style.

What other positive lessons have you learned from the good bosses and people in your life and in your past? Be sure to comment and let us know!

Originally published September 13, 2022.

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