Rule with an iron fist or a soft touch? Should your employees fear or respect you? We look at the five key qualities of great leaders.

According to a recent study, Australian workers are even more disengaged from work than their overseas counterparts.

Half of the Australian workforce claims to suffer from inadequate staffing and excessive workload (50%) while 38 % can be considered as “highly engaged”.

On the flipside only 8% of employees who think they have a bad boss are highly engaged.

Being a good boss is about getting the best from your staff. We look at the five key qualities of great leaders.

1. Communication

Good bosses are great communicators because they know how important it is that their message is clearly understood. They can explain complex issues in simple language because they understand the key issue and don’t have to hide behind jargon or ambiguous phrases. As communication is not a one-way lane, bosses have to be great listeners and show interest in what they hear. A leader who can speak with confidence and persuasion, earns the trust and respect of his staff.

2. Confidence

Just try to think of the boss as the captain of a ship or an airline pilot. They exude confidence because they believe in their ship’s abilities and in a safe passage. If they don’t, the passengers will get nervous and want to disembark. Even if a good boss isn’t sure whether his enterprise will survive the crisis, he won’t show any doubts about it. Staff morale depends on the confidence of the leader and hope is the ultimate motivator in a crisis.

3. Trust and respect

There are still bosses out there who manage their employees with a mix of fear, greed and guilt because they believe this is the way to get the most out of them. This is not only outdated and potentially illegal, but will impact on the company’s performance. A good boss shows trust in the ability and attitude of his staff as they are valuable company assets. Only employees who feel trusted and respected will align with the company’s goals and work with motivation towards a successful outcome.

4. Fairness

Unfair decision making and favouritism creates frustrated and disengaged employees because it destroys the motivation to give their best at work. Performance reviews, wage negotiations and mediation in staff disputes require bosses to look at evidence based facts. This is not easy when personal preferences come into play, but an impartial look at numbers, confirmed statements and own observation combined with some common sense should lead to a just outcome in most cases.

5. Ability to delegate work

Beware of the micro manager who knows everything better than his staff. The practice to intervene in every step of the decision process to “show them how it should be done” firmly belongs to the past. Staff members should be encouraged to take on responsibilities and make decisions to give them a sense of ownership and to encourage proactive engagement. Have trust in your employees’ ability to make sound decisions and remember: You hired them because you decided they were the right people for the job.