The Impact of Having a Good Boss

Don’t look for a good company, look for a good boss.

Advice that was given to me

I’ve heard this advice more times than I can count. From leaders of multinational corporates to friendly fresh graduates searching for their jobs. No doubt that quality bosses have positive effects on your career, but to what extent?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this question, especially in relation to my seniors and bosses (to whom, I pseudo-dedicate this article). So, in this piece, I’ll briefly explore the effect of bosses.

PS: If you are looking for a job, you might find this helpful.

Job Satisfaction

In one of Mckinsey’s articles “The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationship” [1]. Job satisfaction is determined by two major factors, interpersonal relationships, and the “interestingness” of the job.

When it came to interpersonal relationships, 86% is driven by the relationships with management, and the remaining 14% is driven by the relationship with their co-workers. This implies that relationship with management is a much bigger factor in terms of job satisfaction than colleagues (By like 5x).

Here are the implications as I think about it:

  1. A good relationship with your manager can compensate for bad colleagues, but not the other way around.
  2. You will know the quality of work-life during the few months based of the dynamics between you and your boss.
  3. Having a “culture fit” is secondary to having a “Boss fit”. Furthermore, during the pandemic season, the company culture is further mitigated.

Improved Performance

Good bosses improve performance in two ways. Firstly, they are willing to give more generous scores during a performance review. This will lead to a higher likelihood of better compensation. Anders Frederiksen [2] in his research estimates that for a worker, having a generous manager would net you 7% to 14% increase in terms of compensation compared to having a mediocre boss.

This generous rating has a substantial effect on career development apart from compensation. Being rated higher creates opportunities for career development compared to somebody who is rated lower.

Secondly is that through their guidance, they also bring out the best performance in you. I quote directly from the research paper [3]:

Replacing a boss who is in the lower 10% of boss quality with one who is in the upper 10% of boss quality increases a team’s total output by more than adding one worker to a nine-member team.

Value of Bosses by Edward P. LazearKathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton

So a good boss both subjectively and objectively improves your performance.

The Compounding Effect of Bosses

Consider two employees with all things equal except their bosses, one good and the other one not. If we are to play out the scenario, we would see that the career development at first would be similar. But as time passes by, we see a substantial disparity between both people.

My theory on the effects of Boss quality

There is a compounding effect when it comes to the effect of bosses on our careers. It is in the long run where there will be substantial differences.


So obviously seniors play a huge role in career development. Now, there are still some questions left unanswered, and I suspect that there are no quick answers:

  1. Which is better? joining a big company with a bad boss or a small company with a good boss?
  2. Do people develop habits similar to their bosses? (They become their boss)

So many questions, so little time to answer. Nonetheless, if you have any thoughts on the effect of bosses, feel free to post in the comments.

I’M BACK! I apologize for the infrequent post. I discovered that I’ve got a repetitive strain injury on my right shoulder (So had to limit my use of the computer). Then, I got a vaccine shot which made me sick. Then, I had a speaking engagement going on. Nonetheless, I’m back and I’m ready to rumble!

Citations (For those who care)

[1] The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationships

[2] Supervisors and Performance Management Systems by Anders Frederiksen, Lisa B. Kahn, Fabian Lang

[3] The Value of Bosses, written by Edward P. Lazear, Kathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton

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