In Search of the Perfect Boss: Workers Weigh in on the Best and Worst of Their Managers

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In a response to the negative public opinion about the boss, DDI unveils an interactive Web program to give global workers a chance to build their own boss.

Some of this disparate focus makes sense, but at the same time, with a continued war for talent, we need to find ways to motivate our aging workforce.

Is there a perfect boss? Maybe, but ask anyone what it is, and you’ll get a different answer every time.

In a recent survey conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI), a global human resource consulting firm, and Badbossology, a bad-boss protection resource site, workers offered insights on what makes a good leader and where their current boss falls short.

So what topped the list? Of 21 potential ‘leadership’ sins, respondents selected 'being everyone's friend' as their number one choice with 'micromanagement' right behind it.

Male bosses rated high on 'arrogance' and female bosses were criticized for not delegating. And reinforcing the stereotype of men as thrill-seekers, male workers also found their bosses to be four times more risk averse than female workers.

What didn’t make the list? ‘Brown-noser,’ ‘defensive’ and ‘volatile’ were at the bottom of the list of sins for all respondents.

This Boss’s Day (Oct. 16th), DDI is giving workers around the world a chance to create a boss from scratch -- with only the characteristics they want -- and audition what they think could be the perfect boss. Build-A-Boss ( is an interactive Web program that allows users to select four characteristics from a list of 25 positive and negative traits to build their current or ideal manager.

“People complain about their bosses endlessly and we’re challenging them to see if they can do better,” Rich Wellins Senior Vice President, DDI said. “We see the Build-A-Boss as an engaging way for employees to really get a handle on those traits they want in their ideal boss -- or to use it to profile the strengths and weaknesses of their current boss.”

Build-A-Boss will let you try out a new boss by picking your favorite characteristics, honor your boss with a portrait of all their best traits or give your boss feedback on their management style in a less threatening forum. And the research showed that workers really had a lot of opinions on their boss’s performance.

Significant observations from the survey of more than 900 in the workplace include:

Trust is at the top of their wish list. If workers could give their boss a gift of a character trait this Boss's Day, they would wrap up 'trust in employees' and 'honesty and integrity' and ‘team building skills’ as the three top choices. “Everyone wants to feel that they are trusted and valued in their jobs -- these selections relate to these very fundamental human needs and how they transfer to the workplace,” Wellins said.

The stereotype of the male boss prevails for some. More than three-quarters of males would prefer to work for a male boss, while female workers are split down the middle in their preference. The majority of respondents (70 percent) between the ages of 34 and 45 said their ideal boss is male, showing that the more traditional view of ‘boss’ continues with this specific generation. “This helps to address why women are still having trouble breaking into the leadership ranks,” Wellins said. “This perception needs to change because women are equally competent in leadership roles.”

Older workers want to work for their peers. Workers 45 and up would prefer to work for a boss their own age, instead of an older or younger manager. However, nearly half of respondents in this group actually work for bosses younger than them. “With the expected mass retirement of the baby boomers, those older workers who want to hang around need to get used to younger bosses,” Wellins said.

Smarts matter for the boss. One in seven workers says their boss is just not smart, when asked if their boss had book smarts or street smarts. But not everyone saw their boss in a dunce cap -- nearly half of respondents respect their boss’s intellect and think their boss has both book and street smarts.

Career development slows for older generations. While 35 percent of respondents gave a resounding 'yes' when asked about the boss advocating for career development and advancement, responses progressively decrease as employees get older and more advanced in their careers. “As workers get older and become more self-sufficient, it gives the impression that they needs less development, and managers focus more on 20-something workers,” Wellins said. “Some of this disparate focus makes sense, but at the same time, with a continued war for talent, we need to find ways to motivate our aging workforce.”

Leadership skills were the most serious deficit. Almost one third of bosses were considered bad because of 'lack of leadership skills', and more male bosses were criticized for their poor leadership skills. Females, on the other hand, were considered bad bosses because of their lack of ‘sound business judgment/acumen’ with 14 percent of the votes (male bosses had 9.6 percent).

About Difficult bosses are a costly problem, and surveys indicate that approximately 40% of employees have had to deal with a bad boss. is a free resource site that provides news and resources on bad boss protection strategies to help both individuals and their companies. It takes a responsible balanced approach and references material from sources such as The Chicago Tribune,, Fast Company, The Harvard Business School, and US and international government sites. Visitors can raise questions, participate in discussion forums, and save key resources along with personal notes for fast future reference using the site's secure repository. For further information, visit

About DDI: Since 1970, Development Dimensions International, a global human resources consulting firm, helps organizations close the gap between today’s talent capability and future talent needs. DDI’s expertise includes designing and implementing selection systems, and identifying and developing front-line to executive leadership talent. With more than 1,000 associates in 75 offices in 26 countries and headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA, the firm advises half of the Fortune 500. For more information go to

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.

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