Qualities of good and bad mining bosses revealed

Mining boss looking down over minesite

Mining employees have pretty clear ideas on what makes a good or bad boss, a new poll by Mining People has found.

What makes someone a good mining boss and what makes them a bad one? 


That’s what Mining People wanted to find out when we launched our latest poll of people who work in the Australian mining industry. 

The results were loud and clear, with 115 people taking part in the poll during November 2020, and some very strong trends emerging in the answers. 

Do you or your boss have the qualities of great leaders? Or bad ones? Let’s find out. 

What makes a good mining boss?  

We asked respondents the following question: The best mining industry boss I ever had demonstrated the following qualities and abilities. 

We provided a list and asked them to choose their top five answers. Here’s what they had to say: 

  • 11% of all votes - Honesty 
  • 10.2% - Trust in me and my abilities 
  • 9% - Giving me opportunities to grow and develop 
  • 8.7% - Showed appreciation for a job well done 
  • 8.5% - Ability to motivate staff 
  • 8% - Willingness to listen to open and honest feedback 
  • 7.8% - Emotional intelligence (empathy, compassion, understanding) 
  • 7.8% - Knowledge of their job, inside and out 
  • 7.6% - Ability to mentor staff 
  • 6.8% - Ability to inspire people around them 
  • 5.8% - Self-awareness (knew their own strengths and limitations). 

We also asked people to leave a comment if there was a quality we missed. Many of the comments could be related to the above qualities, but we thought this very considered comment was worth sharing: 

“He kept himself updated to the industry changes and fast (at adapting) to the changing business environment. Proper delegation of responsibilities. Followed the laws of the land. Showed no sign of discrimination against fellow colleagues. Respected cultures of people working with from different geographies.” 

What qualities make a bad mining boss? 

We also asked the opposite question — “the worst mining industry boss I ever had demonstrated the following qualities and abilities” —  and similarly asked respondents to choose five answers from the list provided.  

Interestingly, the five top responses ranked very highly indeed, with a high proportion of respondents voting for them. This suggests a commonality to those traits, which the industry would do well to seek out and stamp out. 

Here’s what the respondents said: 

  • 11.7% - Failed to provide direction to staff/did not know how to lead 
  • 11.4% - Was highly critical or unfair, played favourites, or bullied employees 
  • 11% - Would not listen to feedback/avoided tough conversations 
  • 10.8% - Did not trust me and my abilities/was a micromanager/control freak 
  • 10% - Created or encouraged a toxic work environment 
  • 8.7% - Did not show empathy, understanding or compassion 
  • 7.6% - Did not mentor or develop staff 
  • 7.6% - Did not live up to workplace values and policies 
  • 7.3% - Did not lead by example 
  • 6.4% - Took credit for the work of others 
  • 6% - Lacked self-awareness (did not know their own strengths or limitations). 

Among the comments, respondents included words like deceitful, untrustworthy, disrespectful and discriminatory.  

What do mining industry employees think of the boss they have right now? 

This might seem like a slightly mischievous question, but we also took the opportunity to ask respondents what they thought of their current boss.  

Here’s what they said:  

  • 8.7% said their current boss was a bad boss 
  • A further 11.3% said their current boss was the worst they’d ever had 
  • 21.7% didn’t feel overly positive or negative about their boss’s abilities 
  • 44.3% rated their current boss as a good boss 
  • And nearly 14% said their current boss was the best they’d ever had. 

It’s a fascinating and revealing question because it gives an indication of two things: 

  1. How much work there is still to do — because doubtless many of those bad bosses don’t know they’re bad bosses. So, there’s an opportunity for improvement. Indeed, improvement is vital, otherwise the next point will come into play. 
  2. How many people are probably unsatisfied in their current job (at least 20% or so) and are very likely to be on the lookout for a new job. In a candidate’s market, like the current one, that’s not great news for mining companies wanting to hold on to skills and experienced people. 

There’s always room for improvement 

Whether you’re a good boss or a bad one, or have a good boss or a bad, there’s always room for improvement.  

If you’re a boss of any level in a mining company, perhaps these poll results are an opportunity to look at your leadership style and reflect on how your own team might rank you, and find areas you can improve? 

If you’re a mining industry employee, hopefully the above data will give you food for thought about how happy (or otherwise) you are in your current role — whether you’re lucky to have such a great boss, or whether it might be time to look for a new opportunity where you can work for a more inspiring leader. 

If you are looking for deep insights into the mining markets and would like MPi to conduct some targeted industry research on your behalf, then please email us.  

Dan Hatch
Mining People International