What makes a great boss?

31st March 2021

Think about the bosses you’ve had in the past and ask yourself who the best one was. What characteristics did they display? Maybe there was drive, ambition, kindness, the understanding of people and a belief in the business?

Many names may come to mind here – but have you thought of Willy Wonka? Think about his personality and charisma and his values in relation to recruitment and management. He went to great lengths to get it right, encouraged creativity amongst his staff and knew exactly what it was that motivated his workforce.

So what can an employer learn from him? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Passion – Willy released five golden tickets and the world went mad looking for them, displaying passion beyond belief. Use this as a principle when you recruit staff – have they got passion for the job you are interviewing them for?
  • Respect – Despite some of the rude and brattish behaviour of the likes of Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop (as well as their parents) Mr Wonka always treated them with respect. Respect, it could be argued, is a basic human need and by being respected we can become more confident and creative and have a hugely positive impact on those we come into contact with. Who wouldn’t want employees like that?
  • Honesty – Willy Wonka always spoke in a straightforward way about every aspect of his factory. This included the positive and the negative and in doing this showed himself to be honest and authentic. These are qualities admired by many and make you the kind of person somebody wants to work for to the best of their ability.
  • Perseverance – It looked to Wonka as if none of the children were who he was looking for – but obviously it turned out that Charlie was perfect for the job. He didn’t give up despite things looking as if they weren’t turning out how he wanted.
  • Reward and recognition – Willy knew just what motivated his employees because he knew exactly what they did – “You can have cacao beans for every meal! You can gorge yourselves silly on them! I’ll even pay your wages in cacao beans if you wish!” – Willy Wonka. Know your workforce and reward them appropriately.


Taking what Willy Wonka did and applying it to your business is well worth doing. Commit to your employees and they will commit to you and you will have a team of staff performing at their best.


Get in touch

If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this article, or if you would like our support with any specific situation related to staffing issues or managing your workforce, our Employment Law and HR team would be delighted to hear from you.


Melanie Rowe (Senior Associate)

07854 029922