Being a leader vs. being a boss

Throughout your life and professional career you will come across two kinds of managers – leaders and bosses. It doesn’t matter what level these positions are – the managers that rule, scold and are overbearing are more likely to fail, whilst the managers who lead will be successful. Share a vision that people voluntarily want to follow, and you’ll never have to ‘boss’ anyone.

Being in a management role, you oversee a team of employees performing daily tasks and activities. It’s up to you to resolve any issues, hold employees accountable and make sure that the job is being performed to the best possible standards. The issue frequently found is that managers are ineffective leaders, thus resulting in unhappy employees, jobs finished in a poor/rushed/pressured manner leaving a high turnover of employees.

As a manager, it’s imperative to embody the role as a leader rather than a boss. I’ve previously touched on the book ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. One of the key philosophies I focus on ‘level 5 leadership’.

Great leaders surround themselves with people who support them in all aspects of their careers. It’s important to encourage and display your values through your behaviors and actions. People are more likely to trust and follow leader’s motives if they practice what they preach, after all actions speak louder than words.

Level 5 leaders blend personal humility with professional will. A leader has great ambitions, but will put the welfare of the business before their own gains. They will find great successors for themselves.

There are many things you should consider to be a strong leader. Instead of commanding and ruling your team, you’re best to encourage and lead them, showing them by example. Listen, speak and motivate them rather than command and terrify. Create enthusiasm instead of fear. Actively take part in activities and tasks as opposed to barking orders at anyone and everyone that will listen. Working alongside your employees allows you to gently approach weaknesses (and utilize and praise strengths) putting you in a position to be able to build up and coach them in these areas. Instead of taking praise & passing blame, fix the problem and give credit and praise where it’s due.

Whilst employees generally respect the boss, everyone loves the leader. Take for example receiving an email from your ‘boss’ – you form a defensive wall, a feeling of danger or agony. However, when you receive an email from your ‘leader’ you’re calm and open to what they’re asking of you or bringing to your attention, resulting in a happier more productive work place and greater lines of communication, thus resulting in a win for both the employee and leader.

As a manager you have a choice, to be good or great. Be a boss or a leader. Next time you go to say ‘I’ change it to ‘we’. And next time you go to say “go”, work on changing it to “Let’s go”. You may think this is only a tiny change, adding a few words into your sentence; however this change of wording makes a huge difference. Being a leader doesn’t require a title, just as having a title doesn’t inherently make you one.