HR · 19 October 2017

UK employees reveal the personality traits behind their perfect boss

Honesty and sincerity were among employees most valued leadership qualities
Honesty and sincerity were among employees’ most valued leadership qualities

As a small business owner, you might have a good idea of what traits you look for in potential recruits. But, have you considered how you match up to their expectations of the perfect boss?

Now, a new study has indicated exactly what aspects of your personality are under scrutiny.

Workplace rewards provider One4all Rewards polled over 1,000 British workers to find out exactly what their ideal leader looked like, as well as asking how their current employer was performing in terms of the most desirable qualities.

According to the survey’s findings, honesty was the single most important trait British workers expected from their boss – cited by 41 per cent of respondents.

Being approachable was the second most valued quality, with over a third appreciating a welcoming atmosphere in the workplace.

Revealed: Six common leadership traps many small business owners fall into

Meanwhile, around one in four workers wanted to their employer to demonstrate fairness as well as strong organisational skills.

Sincerity was another interpersonal quality desired by the workforce. Over one in five felt strongly about how genuine their boss came across. However, just ten per cent believed their current employer was sufficiently sincere.

For business owners not meeting the expectations of workers, the data uncovered worrying links between the personal qualities of their employer and staff retention. A quarter of respondents said a good working relationship with their boss would encourage them to commit to their long-term future to the company.

Commenting on the study, Alan Smith, UK managing director at One4all Rewards, said its findings confirmed the personal relationship between an employer and their staff should not be underestimated.

“A good leader inspires workers to want to work hard and has the kind of relationship that means if an employee is having a problem or is unhappy, they will feel comfortable approaching them to discuss it,” Smith said.

“Similarly, people also need to be able to be able to place a degree of trust in their boss. Without trust and sincerity, feedback – both good and bad æ is unlikely to be believed or taken seriously.”

In terms of any differences down gender lines, female workers most valued an approachable boss, while male colleagues prioritised honesty above any other trait.

“What I find particularly interesting about these findings is how many of the qualities we look for in an employer mirror those a lot of people would also seek out in new friendships outside of the workplace,” Smith added.

“Bosses don’t need to be friends with their employees, but having the basics of a respectful and honest relationship is important. In addition to these findings, our previous research found that 83 per cent of British workers admitted being regularly thanked by an employer increases the sense of loyalty they feel to their company.

“There is so much advice out there about the intricacies of leadership that it can be quite easy to sometimes forget that, ultimately, people want to be managed by trustworthy, approachable and organised human beings.”

Read more: Employees reveal their most motivational workplace leadership qualities

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.