In evaluating how to be a leader instead of a boss, one first needs to acknowledge that both the leader and the boss have their organization's best interest at heart. Their approach, however, is markedly different in many areas.
Are you a boss looking for ideas on how to be a leader when it comes to promoting creativity and inspiring your employee to move the business forward? You may want to consider these seven tips.
1. Open doors for people to grow.
Self-confidence is a key leadership trait. True leaders are not reluctant to surround themselves with people who are more knowledgeable or skilled than they are. Some bosses, on the other hand, may feel threatened by team members' expertise if it exceeds theirs. This can translate into a host of behaviors that are motivated by fear, such as limiting people's visibility to superiors or shutting them out from crucial meetings.
The same applies when you delegate work. Do you delegate tasks without letting employees in on the bigger picture? Do you delegate the task, but hold the reins on the responsibility? Those are the traits of a boss.
Leaders, on the other hand, may use delegation as an opportunity for those below them to learn and grow.
If you're a boss interested in how to be a good leader, start with developing your followers to grow and become leaders. Open your heart and doors to give people opportunities to shine.
2. Relinquish your hold on the status quo.
Creativity is crucial in today's highly competitive global environment. The difference between a boss and a leader is that a boss may value business-as-usual as a way to maintain control of the day-to-day business. A leader, on the other hand, takes a helicopter view of the company and knows that creativity is a critical factor for future success.
Learning how to be a leader involves relinquishing some of the controls and being open to possibilities.
3. Eliminate busy work.
Do you give employees small insignificant tasks that may not be necessary? Do you ask for frequent written reports or summaries that can easily be handled with a brief conversation? This type of busywork prevents employees from focusing on more important tasks that are tied to the company's goals and provide value.
If you intend to practice how to be a leader, evaluate the type of work you ask people to do. Leaders know that people thrive when they do meaningful work.
Routine, bureaucratic work doesn't effectively use people's skills; it drains their energy and saps creativity and initiative.
Are you wondering how does an effective leader empower an employee? Ask yourself if you have a purpose-driven mission and connect the dots for people to help them feel that what they do matters for the overall mission of the company.
4. Ditch the command and control style.
The command-and-control style of the past may no longer be effective in managing today's purpose-driven communities.
One of the most significant differences between bosses and leaders may be that bosses give orders, while leaders use a more collaborative approach.
Bosses issue commands: "I want this by Friday."
Leaders make inquiries: "Can you fit this into your schedule for Friday?"
Bosses may say, "Do this," while leaders may say, "Try this."
Setting the pace, requiring people to "Do as I do" may not be an ideal way to manage people if you want to be a good leader.
5. Eliminate triangulation.
If you're interested in how to be a leader, consider a scenario where an employee is having a conflict with a colleague.
The employee runs to you to discuss the issue. A boss might be too eager to get involved and fix the problem. As a boss, stepping in this puddle of water creates a communication triangulation. Triangulation, as the name implies, involves three people—it takes a conversation that is meant to be between two people and inserts a third person in the mix, which carries some unintended consequences.
For one thing, it prevents the two employees from addressing issues with each other upfront, thereby missing an opportunity to improve their communication. It can deepen the conflict and might also cause a loss of trust if the boss is seen to take one side over the other.
Evaluate the type of work you ask people to do. Leaders know that people thrive when they do meaningful work.
Leaders avoid toxic triangulation. Instead of wading knee deep into a conflict between employees, they encourage employees to air their disagreements with each other. Leaders create environments that promote open dialogue across all levels of the organization. Allowing for constructive conflict can help employees improve their communication and understand each other's point of view better. It can ultimately improve collaboration and teamwork.
How do effective leaders build trust? By being objective and showing that they don't take sides.
Encourage people to speak to each other to solve their interpersonal issues. Removing yourself from the equation can signal to people that you trust them to solve issues.
If tension between two employees continues to simmer, consider providing conflict resolution training or a coaching service, if need be.
6. Get your hands dirty.
Great leaders know that it's essential to connect with people on a human level. One way to do this is to decrease the psychological distance between them and their employees.
While a boss might give orders, a leader may get in the trenches and show that he or she is a part of the team. Leaders get their hands dirty. This rapprochement engenders respect and admiration and shortens the distance between the leader and the employees.
7. Share information with your team.
I used to report to a CEO whose mantra was, "All support, no walls." What this meant is that information sharing was a part of the culture. Whether it was sales, product development or customer service, everyone was encouraged to share information for the greater good of the company. That was leadership at its best.
Some bosses hoard information as a power play or out of fear of losing control and status. What can you share? As a minimum, people enjoy having the answers to questions like:
- How does the company make money?
- Have profits and revenues increased or decreased?
- How is the company doing overall?
- Who are our biggest customers?
- Who are our biggest competitors?
- What are future operational changes?
By sharing information, leaders make people feel like owners. By hoarding information, bosses may make people feel like hired hands.
Coming to terms with the difference between boss versus leader can help you be more successful at managing your company. Acting as a leader instead of a boss may ultimately make the difference in whether or not you retain the best people for the success of your business.
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