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20 Powerful “What Makes a Great Boss” Quotes for Boss’s Day


20 handpicked quotes from legendary leaders, luminaries, poets, and other great thinkers that capture the essence of what makes a great boss.

What Makes a Great Boss?

October 16th is Boss’s Day, a day that may conjure mixed feelings for some, especially given our current socio-economic circumstances. But the thing about Boss’s Day is it was never meant to be about recognizing terrible bosses. It’s about recognizing what makes a truly awesome boss with all things considered.

How Bosses Influence Employees

A recent survey from the American Psychological Organization showed that an employee’s job satisfaction, motivation, and feelings of self-worth are all tightly linked to a supportive boss and rise and fall according to how much support they get.

Decades of research and analyses have concluded that the general ingredients of a great boss are all those things we already feel in our gut – they should be kind, compassionate, and fair, but also know when to be proactive and lead by example.

But clearly, since only around 31% of employees feel fully engaged with their work, it also takes a little something extra, and that bit of magic can be difficult to describe.

20 “Great Boss” Quotes

Here are 20 handpicked quotes in no particular order from legendary leaders, luminaries, poets, and other great thinkers that for our money capture the essence of what makes a great boss:

  1. “To add value to others, one must first value others.” – John Maxwell
  2. “Leaders don’t inflict pain, they share pain.” – Max Depree
  3. “When you are grateful, fear disappears, and abundance appears.” — Anthony Robbins
  4. “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie
  5. “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
  6. “You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.” – Jeanette Rankin
  7. “The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” -Iyanla Vanzant
  8. “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock
  9. “Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.” — Jorge Luis Borges
  10. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  11. “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw
  12. “A leader leads by example, not by force.” – Sun Tzu
  13. “We are stronger when we listen, and smarter when we share.” — Rania Al-Abdullah
  14. “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” — Jesse Jackson
  15.  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is a habit, not a virtue.” – Aristotle
  16. “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant
  17. “When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.” – Betty Bender
  18. “The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” — Arabian Proverb
  19.  “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  20. “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” – Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Recognize Excellence

Is this a lot to live up to? Yes. Does every boss have to try to live up to it? Well, yeah. We celebrate Boss’s Day to remind us that inspiring leadership deserves just as much gratitude as any other achievement in the workplace. After all, at the end of the day, what makes a boss great is what makes us all great.