Being a boss is overrated. Be a leader instead. Regardless of your position within your organization’s hierarchy, there are opportunities every day to exude leadership. Though it may seem the two coincide and their definitions overlap to the point that they are hard to distinguish, there are key differences between being a “boss” and being a “leader.” Bosses demand. Leaders coach. Bosses say “I.” Leaders say “we.” Bosses place blame. Leaders accept blame. Bosses see shortcomings as asterisks against their department. Leaders see shortcomings as growth opportunities. Bosses issue ultimatums. Leaders generate enthusiasm. Starting to get the picture? Stop trying to be a boss, and start working on being a leader.
Here are some ideas to help get you honed in on your leadership skills, no matter who you are:
Whether you’re encouraging creativity from yourself, someone who reports to you, or to a colleague of equal standing, great leaders aim to get the best out of their counterparts. Bosses that ‘demand’ the next groundbreaking idea rarely motivate their team to produce their best work. Leaders who cultivate creativity and provide valuable insight along the way don’t only gain favor in the eyes of their employees; they give them a whole new meaning to their work. Some people need to be encouraged to fully express their creativity, and who knows what amazing results you can get out of people when you give them the right kind of encouragement.
Lead by Example
Remember that old phrase your parents would say: Do as I say, not as I do? It never works for children, and it doesn't work for adults. With that in mind, how can a leader realistically expect their team members to behave a certain way when they don’t model the behavior themselves?
According to a behavioral science journal article about leadership, idealized influence is a key to “transformational leadership,” stating it “can easily transmit their inspirational motivation.” In other words, the positive behavior of a leader is contagious and keeps teams motivated, creative, and ready to tackle any challenge that may come their way.
This is a popular topic here at Ubeya, and we write about it quite often. When we talk about flexibility, we don’t mean taking your team to yoga classes (although that isn’t the worst idea). We’re talking about providing alternative methods for getting from point a to point b. Every employee is an individual with unique life circumstances and it’s up to leaders to understand that and treat them as such. Most prospective employees nowadays are looking at flexibility and a work-life balance as key priorities for their next position, so it’s best to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, employees who know you care about their personal wellbeing will give you their best self when they come to work. It’s a win-win situation for both leaders and their team members.
Why Leadership Matters
Everybody has worked for a boss or two in their lifetime. Not everybody has worked with a leader. Great leaders, no matter their industry, inspire the best work from their employees. Great leadership translates to positive results across an organization, whether that be employee satisfaction, retention, creativity, and even productivity. Employees who feel that they have a leader who represents their best interests and will be in the trenches with them when push comes to shove will go the extra mile when it matters. It’s part of human nature. With that said, stop trying to be a “boss” and start being a leader!