It's National Boss Day (For Those With a Job)

A token of appreciation.
A token of appreciation.

It's that time of year when employees pay homage to their manager, thanks to an appreciative daughter.

National Boss Day was created in 1958 by Patricia Bays Haroski, a secretary at an Illinois insurance office who thought up a holiday honoring bosses. As it happened, Haroski worked for her own father, whose birthday was October 16.

A few years later, the Illinois governor officially proclaimed it Boss Day. Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, it has become an annual observance across the U.S. and Canada, and in several other countries as well.

Since Oct. 16 falls on a weekend this year, most will mark the occasion on Friday.

It's a day for employees to thank their boss for being kind and fair, says Robert Sutton, professor of Management Science and Engineering at the Stanford Engineering School and author of "Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best . . . and Learn from the Worst" (Business Plus).

But is your boss worthy of thanks?

Sutton offered a few helpful signs that your manager merits praise:

1.   "Serves as a human shield, protects employees from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe -- and avoids imposing his/her own idiocy on them as well."

2.   "Is aware of how his/her moods and actions affect employees and does not suffer from power poisoning or detachment."

3.   "Has ambitious and well-defined goals, but focuses more on the small wins that enable their people to make a little progress every day."

An example of a boss worthy of such praise, Sutton suggests, is Chilean mining foreman Luis Urzua, who helped organize the other 32 miners trapped underground for 2.5 months. He was told by Chilean President Sebastien Pinera that he "acted like a good boss."

And what makes for a bad boss? Sutton said it's someone who:

1.   "Passes the buck and takes all of the credit but none of the blame."

2.   "Treats others as if they are idiots."

3.   "Focuses on their own needs and concerns and acts as if the rules don't apply to them."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and