Compare yourself with the Top 20 Characteristics of a Best Boss.  #3 - a Best Boss Enables Success.

In this series, we are looking at the list of Top 20 “Best Boss” Characteristics.  So far we have seen that a Best Boss: 

#1 -- Is a Good Communicator

#2 -- Holds Himself and Others Accountable for Results.

Now let’s examine #3 -- A “Best Boss” Enables Success.

Defining Success

To understand how a Best Boss enables or creates the conditions for success, we must first describe what we mean by success.  For our purpose, success and failure are measures of performance against clearly communicated expectations or standards.  

This means we will need to look closely at what drives performance and how best to give feedback that will sustain excellent performance or make necessary improvement more likely. 

Performance = Motivation + Ability

Ability and motivation are inextricably tied together and are both required for success.  Best Bosses understand that: 

  1. Ability contributes to motivation through increased confidence
  2. Intrinsic (internal) motivation increases as self esteem (confidence) grows.

The Role of Motivation

Confident employees are more likely to show initiative and to achieve desired results, so what should a Best Boss do to build confidence in his or her employees?

First off, recognize these two steps for building self esteem:

  1. Successful accomplishment of something meaningful to the individual
  2. Recognition for that accomplishment from a significant person.

Bosses are significant to employees, so Best Bosses “engineer” situations that allow employees to be challenged (meaningful) but successful (accomplishment) and then follow that accomplishment with appropriate positive feedback (recognition by a significant person).

The Role of Ability

Delegation and training are tied directly to ability.  Best bosses know the skill (ability) level of each employee and either provide...

  1. Appropriate delegation to those who are able, or 
  2. Training (usually on-the-job) for those who need more development.

Best Bosses are constantly looking for new opportunities to provide meaningful challenges to employees, but are also aware that  employees need success for development of self esteem and the motivation that comes with it.  They use delegation and training to create an environment that enables success.

The Contribution of Feedback

After delegating or training, Best Bosses follow-up with the employee to ensure that the plan is continuing to work.  The feedback the employee receives in that moment is going to impact their immediate performance and also their future performance. 

Feedback for Meeting or Exceeding Expectations

If performance meets or exceeds expectations, Best Bosses give appropriate, positive feedback (a form of extrinsic motivation) to increase the chances that the same good performance will occur again in the future.

Feedback for Not Meeting Expectations 

If performance is below expectations, Best Bosses re-direct to get performance back on track and reduce the chances of failure in the future.

Best bosses never set employees up for failure, but when failure occurs, they use it as an opportunity to evaluate what caused the failure without immediately blaming the person for the failure.  

Best bosses don’t assume that failure is always the result of poor motivation, but take the time to look for other factors such as knowledge, skill, support, pressure from others, etc.  Once they find the real reason behind the failure, they work with (re-direct) the employee to develop a plan for eliminating the failure in the future.

Best Boss Bottom Line

The work place is not a feel-good, kids’ sports league where everyone gets a trophy for showing up.  In reality, success and failure in the performance of our jobs have real consequences.  That is why Best Bosses are intentional about creating the conditions where their employees can be successful.  They understand how motivation and ability impact performance and they use appropriate feedback to influence future performance. 

Question:  How am I supposed to deal with my supervisor when he tells me to do something unsafe?  He can fire me and I need my job.

SafetyCompass®:  Keeping your job is really important and your supervisor’s view of you is key to that.  The way you communicate with your boss is really important here.  You want to have a conversation that eliminates defensiveness and creates an atmosphere where you and your supervisor find a “fix” that gets the job done in a safe manner. 

Start with “facts” and minimize “guesses” about his motive for asking you to do something that is not safe.  Say something like, ”So you want me to do this (unsafe action), but it seems to me that if I do this it could very likely lead to this (injury)”. 

Always show “respect” through your tone of voice, body language and facial expression. 

Make sure you do not blame the boss because blame is based on your guess about his motive and you don’t know that motive yet.  You want to reduce his defensiveness and find out why he wants you to perform this unsafe action.  Remember, he may not see it as unsafe in the moment. 

You may need to use a “Do/Don’t” statement to set the stage for your discussion.  You might say something like, “I don’t want to sound disrespectful or challenge your authority, but I do want to make sure that I am doing this job in a safe manner.” 

Keep in mind your real objective -- to eliminate defensiveness and find a “fix” that gets the job done in a safe manner.  If you do it this way, you are much more likely to not only keep your job, but also to impress your boss with your communication skills and your focus on safety.






At the root of most business successes and failures - both large and small - is human performance.

For 25+ years, hundreds of companies around the world have turned to The RAD Group to identify, resolve and capitalize on critical human factors in their organizations.



May 3
Enform Petroleum Safety Conference
(Calgary, CAN)

Phillip Ragain presents 
Pointing the Way to the SAFEST Workplace

May 15-18
Region 6 VPPP Conference
(Ft. Worth, TX)

Michael Allen presents 
Skills for Re-directing Unsafe Behavior


Best Boss skill #4 - Motivates Others






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