A Best Boss Leads by Example, Is Loyal to Employees, & Is Friendly

To recap the series, so far we have seen that a 'Best Boss': #1 -- is a good communicator #2 -- holds himself and others accountable for results #3 -- enables success #4 -- motivates others #5 -- cares about the success of others #6 -- is honest and trustworthy #7 -- shows trust by delegating effectively #8 -- is fair and consistent #9 -- competent and knowledgeable and #10 -- rewards / recognizes success.

This month we will look at:

#11 -- leads by example #12 -- is loyal to employees and #13 -- is friendly.

Combined, these three characteristics of a Best Boss help create workplace climate. It makes a lot of sense that the factors that make up workplace climate would make the list when we asked employees to describe the best boss they ever had. The saying goes that, "People don't quit companies, they quit people." The flip side of this is true as well. When employees talk about loving to work for a great company, they are really describing that they love working in a great work climate. That work climate is created, intentionally or unintentionally, by people -- by bosses. As we look closer at each of these characteristics, reflect back on your own work climate experiences. Better yet, examine the one you are creating or experiencing right now.

Leads By Example

Have you ever heard the statement “Do as I say, not as I do”? It's hard to imagine being motivated to follow the leadership of someone who is not willing to apply the same rules/expectations to him/herself that are placed on the rest of the team. As a supervisor (or parent) we always set an example for someone and it is either a good example or a bad example. In the workplace that example helps to create the expectations that our team members have. Those expectations help to determine the workplace climate in which your team operates.

Bosses, to a very large extent, set the workplace climate through what they say and what they do. Workplace climate includes all the rules of conduct and operation including those formal and written (policy and procedure) and those informal and unwritten (what is acceptable). If a boss works outside the written rules, then the communication is that it is really alright for everyone else to do so, too. Best Bosses understand their role in determining the “real” workplace climate and therefore strive to always set an example of adherence to the written policies and procedures as they expect their team members to do also.

The workplace is inherently complex and stressful enough without the compounding effects of frustration and resentment that accompany a perception of organizational or leadership hypocrisy. Ultimately, there is no amount of personal utility, comfort or privilege that outweighs the detriment to work climate from not "walking the walk."

Loyal to Employees

Loyalty is defined as faithfulness to commitments and obligations that one has to another person or group, so Best Bosses honor the commitments and obligations that they have made to their team members. But how is this loyalty shown?

  • It does not mean “turning a blind eye to failure” and
  • It does not mean supporting team members with upper management when the team member has defiantly violated policy.
  • It does mean supporting team members when the team member has done everything that they were expected to do, but failure occurred anyway.
  • It does mean defending team members when they are challenged by other leaders about their efforts and results when the team member has met the boss' communicated expectations.
  • It does mean defending team members when they are not present and can’t defend themselves. Best Boss loyalty is not blind but it is fair and dependable as long as it is deserved.


Some people think “weak” when they hear that a boss is “friendly”, but this is not what we mean by this term at all. Friendly simply means “not hostile or antagonistic” to their team members. Best Bosses are not usually “best friends” with their team members and they certainly don’t put themselves in positions where they could show favoritism.

Best Bosses understand the difference between being serious about results and showing concern about those things that are of concern to each team member. They take the time to listen to those concerns and to help team members evaluate approaches to dealing with them. They show appropriate humor and never demean a team member either to his/her face or behind his/her back. Friendly simply means creating a relationship that helps to make it easier for each team member to express their concerns and ideas while accomplishing their agreed upon objectives.

Best Boss Bottom Line

Workplace climate is critical to effectiveness and to a large extent is determined by what the boss does, how he treats and supports his/her team members and the relationship that is developed with each person.