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7 Questions That Separate Great Bosses from Bad Ones

Contrary to conventional wisdom, research shows the difference comes down to hard skills, not just soft skills

Source | | JEFF HADEN

While occasionally a great team succeeds in spite of a bad boss, great businesses are almost always built by great leaders.

Unfortunately, illusory superiority is an actual thing. Eight out of 10 people believe they’re above average drivers. Nine out of 10 college professors believe they’re above average teachers. Ninety-nine out of 100 high school kids believe their social skills are above average.

And most people in leadership positions believe they’re good bosses.

But since leadership is more art than science, how can you objectively determine if someone is a great leader?

Researchers from the University of London decided to find out, first identifying factors that not only contribute to employee job satisfaction — often the canary in the bad-boss coal mine — but leadership performance as well. (More on that in a moment.)

They boiled those factors down to the following seven questions, answered on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) scale:

  1. Does your immediate boss provides useful feedback on your work?
  2. Does your immediate boss respect you as a person? 
  3. Does your immediate boss give you praise and recognition when you do a good job?
  4. Does your immediate boss is helpful in getting the job done?
  5. Does your immediate boss encourage and support your development?
  6. Is your immediate boss successful in getting people to work together?
  7. Does your immediate boss help and support workers?

Like the tool Google uses to identify its best team managers, the questions focus more on soft skills than hard skills: Respect, feedback, coaching, teamwork, etc.

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