Are You A Boss Or A Leader?

Congratulations on your promotion to the management team! Welcome to a host of new responsibilities and what may well prove to be the most challenging job you’ve ever held. But you’ve got this. Right?

You probably already know that bad bosses result in great companies losing valuable employees and you’ve probably heard the saying, “People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.” You understand the critical relationship between bosses and their charges; how being a boss and being a leader differ, as well as how one management style leads to better, more effective results.

As I said, you’ve got this. But in case you need a refresher, let’s delve into what those differing managerial styles involve. 

“When I say “boss,” I’m talking about the kind of manager whose leadership strategies are all about command and control,” says Jack Canfield. “The boss declares, ‘I’m in charge’ and ‘I’ve decided this’ and ‘I expect that’ – without encouraging any input from their team. It’s the boss’s way or the highway.” Canfield notes how a boss operates from a controlled, “top-down,” rigid mindset. “When a boss insists on making all the decisions on his or her own, and never asks for ideas or feedback from the team, it makes employees feel undervalued, like they have no useful contributions to make. And that will make them feel discouraged and disconnected from the success of the organization.” 

Another key difference is that bosses command while leaders influence. Further corroboration of these concepts comes in an article by John Stoker with insights of essential leadership behaviors that include:

  • Be open to new ideas

Some bosses think they know everything, so they are not interested in what anyone else thinks, nor are they willing to consider others’ experience.  Leaders are open to hearing what others have to say and how they can best contribute to the goal at hand.”

  • Solicit everyone’s ideas

Leaders understand that seeking ideas and perspectives from everyone can benefit all involved. They are not afraid of contrary views as they appreciate different experiences and unique perspectives and the value they bring to the table.

  • Be willing to discuss challenges and opportunities

“Bosses may discuss challenges in the context of blame and accusation. Leaders will seek to uncover the reasons for their employees not performing as expected and then do what they can to provide support and offer additional training and resources as needed.”

Those in leadership positions can shift away from the “boss” mentality toward a more effective “leader” model. An excellent starting point is to demonstrate genuine caring for their team and encourage, then listen, to the individual’s thoughts and ideas. Follow this with a commitment to share the 'whys' behind decisions and directives. Soon, “boss” ways will be a thing of the past, replaced with the characteristics of a true leader.


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