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Mailbag: Attributes of a leader

Feb 04, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Readers share thoughts on what characteristics they find important in a boss

A few weeks ago, I reported on the results of a survey about the key characteristics employees look for in a boss. Honesty, integrity and compassion were tops. I asked what you think and some of your responses appear below.

Carl, a training and support specialist in Seattle, says honesty is the single most important thing. However, he writes, “An honest supervisor who hates my lifestyle, or who constantly leaves me out on a limb because s/he doesn’t communicate, might be worse than a crook who’s my drinking buddy.”

He adds, “I’m more worried that top management is honest than my direct report.  All my direct report can do is cheat me on budget things.  Top management can loot my pension fund and bankrupt the company,” Carl says.

Respect is most important to Anne, a senior staff engineer with more than 24 years experience in the tech industry. “I highly value mutual respect in a boss…showing me respect for what I do leads me to respect them as well.  In my history this typically leads to a win-win situation.”

IT pro Joyce shares her dream list of qualities managers should possess:

1. Consistent application of rule set, given consistent situations.

2. Ability to hone in on key issues and give alternative suggestions for solution, in addition to those presented by you.

3. The strength to hand back monkeys.

4. The self-discipline to keep out of an assignment given to an employee, unless the employee needs or asks for help.

Finally, Achim points out that an employee’s success is ultimately judged by a boss, and not by the employee’s own direct reports. “Ultimately it’s the leader’s boss rating his performance a success or failure,” he says. He does add that success can’t be achieved in the long run if a leader’s staff doesn’t respect him.

“Looking at the traits rated low by employees I find three to four out of five (decisiveness, flexibility, attention to detail, and to a lesser degree creativity) that my boss expects of me as a leader. Among the traits rated highly by employees fewer stand out as important expectations on me by my boss (most importantly integrity).