Seven traits of great workplace leaders

There are scenes in certain movies that always leave me with goose bumps. Whether it’s Mel Gibson in Braveheart asking “will you fight?”, Winston Churchill offering his “one word: victory”, or Albus Dumbledore imploring “fight and fight again”, seeing a great leader in full-flight is exhilarating and incredibly motivating.

I’ve been lucky to have some great bosses when I was in junior roles in corporate Australia, all of which have shown at least a number of the seven traits below, traits that I do my best to embody at Found.

1. Great bosses don’t take credit for others’ ideas, they give others credit for their own ideas.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this when we’ve been working with mediocre managers. One of the junior team members will come up with an inspired new approach to a problem or generate insight which the team hadn’t previously shared. A mediocre manager will claim this as their own, a great leader will help that person develop the approach or insight to maturity, then give them full credit for the achievement.

2. Great bosses shoulder failures but share success

Like the famous desk sign ‘the buck stops here’, good bosses are willing to own the output from their team, without ever feeling the need to pass blame for any failure down to more junior members of their team. Great bosses go further.

3. Great bosses inspire their teams to do what needs to be done, instead of telling them to do what they want

While a good manager will efficiently and clearly delegate a list of tasks, and see that they’re performed by their team, a great boss goes beyond this. Instead of providing a list of tasks, they will focus on what the team needs to achieve, and make every member understand how their part is vital in the success of the overall goal. Not only will everyone know exactly what they’re doing, they’ll know how to do it and why they’re important and valued.

4. Great bosses have teams who work “with” them, not “for” them

One of the best bosses I ever worked with refused to use the term ‘works for me’. Over the years that I was in his team, he consistently introduced his team as people he worked ‘with’, rather than those who worked ‘for’ him. In practice, this also meant he never asked someone to do something that he wasn’t willing to do himself.

5. Great bosses are consistent, yet flexible

We’ve all worked for someone in the past who’s overly-bound by process, or who can only be relied on to change their mind on a regular basis. Great bosses have a clear view on what they want their team to achieve, meaning that they’re not only consistent in their goals, but are willing
to challenge the status quo and provide flexibility for their team if it increases the probability of achieving the desired outcome.

6. Great bosses aren’t afraid to hire people who are more talented than they are

Great leaders surround themselves with the best people they can find, never being afraid that they may one day be ‘upstaged’ by someone who works for them. This confidence inspires the team, and ensures not only their own success, but the success of the people around them.

7. Leaders create other leaders

Confident and successful leaders aren’t afraid to build the capability of those around and below them. Like great teachers, they always hope that people they come into contact will be at least as successful as they are. While we may never be lucky enough to come into regular contact with a real-life Braveheart, Winston Churchill or Albus Dumbledore, many of these traits are as relevant to the newest trainee as they are to a seasoned corporate leader. After all, anyone who can start acting like a leader in their everyday life will undoubtedly end up in a position that recognises these traits.


Andrew Joyce was previously co-founder of mobile refurbishing business, Rifurb which turned over $25 million in its first twelve months. He is now three years into his second venture as co-Founder at Found Careers, a jobs app taking on the $11 billion dollar Australian recruitment industry by connecting mobile job seekers with employers.  He established Found Careers in 2015, which has rapidly become the leading platform for mobile jobseekers. www.

Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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