In the coming days and weeks, I’m going to be sharing the top traits, qualities and characteristics that bosses want from employees and vice versa. This is based on hundreds of interviews that I conducted with managers, supervisors and CEOs for my book Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You.

Some of the things bosses want from employees will seem like common sense. Then again, as you know, common sense isn’t always commonly applied!

What Bosses Want from Employees

What’s big on their list? Be proactive and solutions-oriented; go above and beyond. When managers, supervisors and CEOs were asked to describe the traits and behaviors necessary for a subordinate to be considered a good employee, overwhelmingly I heard, “Someone who goes above and beyond.” That’s worth repeating: In today’s economy, for you to be considered a “good” employee, bosses expect you to go “above and beyond.” So, if necessary, work longer hours and put in extra effort. If you don’t, someone else will.

Also managers repeatedly asked for “someone proactive, not reactive–an employee who thinks ahead. If that employee experiences problems, he or she looks for solutions.” So to be an exemplary employee, condition yourself to be solution-focused rather than problem-focused.

What bosses want from employees may seem like a lot. In my leadership seminars and keynotes, I always tell managers and supervisors it starts at the top. Be an effective role model. Be the change you want to see.

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert, Motivational Speaker

An internationally recognized award-winning speaker, Colleen Kettenhofen is the author of the book, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You, as well as 10 unique audio programs.

As a Portland, Oregon-based motivational speaker, Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 fun and entertaining programs before thousands in 48 states and five countries. She has served as keynote speaker for conferences, corporate meetings, associations, Native-American tribes, and non-profits. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars. For more information, please visit