Do you consider yourself a leader or a boss? This question doesn’t just apply to the workplace, it can also refer to your home and personal relationships. Do you lead people or just tell them what you want done without any consideration or explanation? Do you encourage and develop your team, or do you use criticism and protect your own interests?
The world is full of bosses. There are far too few leaders. Since leaders are rather scarce, you can really make a name for yourself by becoming a good leader. You’ll enjoy more career opportunities and have far fewer challenges with your employees. Being a leader is helpful at home, too. Your kids and spouse would rather deal with a leader than a boss.
Take advantage of these ideas and become a more effective leader:
1. Lead by example. A boss likes to sit on the sidelines and allow others to do the hard work. A leader is out in front of his people showing the way. A leader is involved. A boss just makes a request and walks away.
2. Leaders are driven by a purpose. There is an overall goal or mission. The people following the leader must be inspired and empowered. The people must understand the mission. This is very different than providing a to-do list without any context.
3. Leaders delegate. Bosses micromanage. A leader trusts his people, but a boss struggles to relinquish any control. A leader has surrounded himself with people that complement his weaknesses. A boss hires people that don’t make him feel threatened.
● A boss always has a weaker team. The team can’t accomplish as much because they’re not empowered. The team is also weaker because the boss doesn’t want strong employees that might shine brighter than he does.
4. Leaders value respect. A boss wants to be feared. On the surface, they might appear to be similar, but the differences are striking. A leader is willing to use his enthusiasm, skill, and expertise to encourage others to respect and follow him. A boss uses fear and threats to gain compliance.
● Leaders have the best wishes of their followers. Those that follow a boss secretly want him to fail.
5. A leader develops new leaders. A true leader is constantly creating employees with the knowledge and experience to take his place. A boss is afraid of the competition. A boss is afraid he’ll be replaced and is too self-centered to be concerned about the career aspirations of his employees.
6. Leaders know how to motivate. They know that no two employees are the same. They know their employees well enough to know how to inspire them. A boss simply says, “It is what it is. This is what needs to be done. You can always look for another job if you don’t like it.”
● Leaders use positive techniques for motivation, while bosses tend to criticize.
7. Leaders take responsibility. When the team fails, the leader is still out in front taking the brunt of the criticism. A boss is trying to absolve himself of as much responsibility as possible. A boss is quick to blame his employees. A leader is quick to blame himself.
Think back over your work history. You’ve had plenty of bosses and hopefully at least a couple of leaders. It’s not enjoyable to work for someone that fits into the boss category. You feel like you’re operating in the dark with little support and few development opportunities.
It’s much more enjoyable to work for a leader. Develop your leadership skills. You’ll be helping yourself, your employees, and your family.