Most of our bosses fade from memory as we move on in our careers or they do, but those of us who are very lucky have the chance at some point to work for one of the great ones -- the ones we remember always with fondness and gratitude, the ones who change our lives.
They share these 14 attributes, these bosses who teach and inspire us:
* A positive attitude. Employers who believe that their employees are basically worthwhile and competent usually end up with employees who are worthwhile and competent.
* Enthusiasm. Bosses who inspire constantly reinforce their employees' honest efforts and good results. They help us to feel good about ourselves and we, in return, would walk through fire for them -- or work 70 hours a week.
* Empathy. Great bosses never treat their employees like robots or machines. They make it clear every day that they genuinely care about our feelings and struggles.
* Sincerity. Employers who earn our loyalty don't do so with flowery speeches or empty promises. They're honest and forthright.
* Respect for others. The bosses for whom we happily slave understand that every one of us brings a unique set of talents, skills, knowledge and experience to our job and that every human being deserves to be treated with respect regardless of his or her age, sex, race, education, salary or job description.
* Trustworthiness. They always tell us the truth and treat us fairly. They don't have hidden agendas or present one face to us and another to management.
* Focus. Great bosses excel at remaining calm in the face of chaos, at keeping the goal in mind. This helps us to focus on the results for which we're striving and gives us a way to measure how successful or unsuccessful we've been -- something we can't do if our goals keep changing.
* Realistic expectations. Employers who inspire us to do our best have a realistic idea of what our best can be. They expect enough of us to stretch our talents and willingness to work hard, but not so much of us that we become discouraged.
* Competence. Bosses who earn our respect know what they're doing -- and no boss who doesn't ever fools her employees for long.
* The ability to listen. Communication is a two-way street to these teachers. They clear not only their calendars but their minds when it's time for a talk, and they listen actively by making eye contact, nodding, and asking relevant questions.
* Good communication skills. All good teachers, including bosses, must be able to express themselves clearly and concisely so that their students or employees can easily understand what's expected of them.
* Patience. We may not always like what a great boss says or does, but we never have a reason to distrust or fear her. A great boss knows that where fear and distrust exist, candor and openness cannot, and that not only will employees never shine in an uncertain or punitive atmosphere, but they won't, either.
* Perceptiveness. A good coach must take the time to observe each of her students and must be able to understand what each needs to grow and improve.
* Responsiveness. The bosses we remember are those who are willing to give us feedback -- positive and negative. They tell us what they like and don't like, when we need to make a change and when we're doing just fine, because they know that without plenty of feedback, no one struggles or grows -- or cares -- for long.