Some people are born leaders and will naturally act like a boss even when working at the very bottom of the corporate ladder. For the rest of us, acting like a boss requires thought, effort and practice. This is particularly true for many small business owners who have the vision and ability to open a company but not necessarily the ability to properly behave like a boss.

Act Confident, Not Cocky

Someone who is truly confident can make other people feel confident too, and that's why confidence is one of the main characteristics of a great boss. Cockiness is the opposite of true confidence and is a bad characteristic in a leader. Managers should practice humble confidence, knowing that their own achievements are only possible with the help of their team. As a result, she should be confident enough to give credit for completing projects to the people who made the accomplishment possible.

A boss should never be wishy washy about making decisions or afraid to make hard choices but should be open to hearing opinions that may conflict with hers. She should be willing to admit when she makes a mistake and make things right.

Similarly, she should feel confident enough in her team that she shouldn't have to micromanage them to ensure they get their tasks done, which will in turn give them the confidence they need to thrive. A confident boss can help employees who need a little assistance and make them feel more confident about their own abilities in the process.

Don't Be Too Sensitive

Even the best boss will be criticized by his employees here and there. That may be because things aren't going well and employees are unhappy about layoffs and long hours, or it could just be a way to blow off steam. This is another reason a good manager needs to be confident. He needs to know that even if he overhears negative things being said about him, it's not always something to take personally.

Be Friendly, Don't Be Friends

One of the biggest mistakes new bosses make is that they try to be friends with their employees. While there's nothing wrong with being friendly to your employees and caring about them as people, trying to build friendships with them is likely to end up making things more difficult for you in the long run for a number of reasons. The first problem with being friends with your employees is that it will make managing them much more difficult, especially when you have to discipline them or lay them off. You'll also likely hear them talk about you behind your back at some point, which is a lot harder to ignore when you consider them friends.

Another big problem with befriending your workers is that chances are you won't become friends with all of them, at least not on the same level. That will make you likely to play favorites and promote and reward those people who are your friends over the rest. Even if you do manage to act only based on merit, other employees are still going to think you based your decisions on personal preferences every time you do something that benefits your friends over them.

Get to know your staff and learn more about their lives, what motivates them and what makes them happy so you can help motivate and reward them properly. However, don't become so attached or involved that you have a hard time making hard calls regarding their future.

Characteristics of a Great Boss

Aside from being confident and kind but not being cocky and not trying to be friends with your employees, you should also be accepting, supportive, available and communicative. Be accepting and supportive if an employee likes to do things a certain way, has a different lifestyle than most people you know or is going through a rough time. Make yourself available to your staff when they need you since a boss that's never around is not going to be there for her team when they need her.

Perhaps most importantly, be communicative with employees, both listening to their needs and feedback and sharing important things about the company with them. If the company is going through a rough patch, don't pretend like everything's OK. Tell them what's going on, and they might work harder or think of new ideas that could turn things around for you.