Discover more in the Best of OPEN Forum series

Don’t Be Just a Boss, Be a Leader

Almost anyone can tell people what to do. Being a true leader often calls for skills like these.
Founder, Personalincome.org
April 18, 2016

While the term “boss" can sound scary and powerful, it doesn't have to be. A boss is simply a person in charge of a group or organization, similar to a leader—and while leaders are often bosses, not every boss is a true leader.

Hopefully, you're more of a leader in how you conduct your business and how others perceive you, but if not, here are eight tips that may help you become a better boss.

1. View yourself as a leader.

You might guide your team by being an example. Leaders tend to be approachable and friendly, and they often view themselves as one of the team members, not as someone with superiority. Instead of telling your team what to do, show them. Throw yourself into their work just as much as you would your own. 

Even though you're the boss, you and your employees are in this together. Without them, you may not have a business.

— Donny Gamble, founder, Personalincome.org

2. Be a good listener.

If your team feels like you're actually listening to their ideas and taking them into consideration, they may be more likely to perform to the best of their abilities. You might do this by holding one-on-one meetings once a month. Ask your employees what they're struggling with, if they need your assistance with anything and what you can do to help them perform their job more efficiently.

3. Set working hours.

Bosses often overwork themselves. Allow yourself time off to enjoy hobbies and spend time with family and friends. This may make you a better boss because work doesn't become your life. For example, once I'm home for the day, I don't check my email until the following morning.

4. Focus on the positive.

Having a bad business month or not meeting sales goals isn’t a good reason to treat your team members poorly. Consider focusing on what they did right and formulate a strategy, together, to do better next month. If they meet their goals next month, you might reward them by buying lunch. 

5. Hold team-building events.

Whether you take the team out to lunch, go to a ballgame one afternoon or make every Friday after 3 p.m. an office happy hour, consider setting aside time to hang out with your employees on a more personal level. Team building outside of the office may help unite everyone once they're back in the office. 

6. Ask for feedback.

Employees may ask their boss for feedback on how they can do better or what they need to do to get promoted. A good boss, though, might also ask employees what they need from them. Do they need more one-on-one time? Do they need more group meetings to make sure everyone's on the same page? Monthly one-on-one meetings are one time to do this. These may become just as valuable for your employee as they are for you.

7. Set clear expectations.

Good bosses may have more productive employees when they clearly portray their expectations. If you expect your employees to complete a certain amount of tasks each week and turn in progress sheets, set them up for success so they can make this happen. Consider having them log their projects and tasks in a spreadsheet. Keep it simple so your employees don't risk spending more time on the spreadsheet than they do on the task.

8. Let your team in on where the company is headed.

This may be especially vital for small-business owners. You might let your employees know what your goals are and where you see your company five years from now. If you're performing well, let them know. If you're performing poorly, consider holding a team meeting and allow everyone to pitch in ideas on how to do better.

Even though you're the boss, you and your employees are in this together. Without them, you may not have a business, so it may behoove you to treat them fairly and let their voices be heard.

This article was originally published on April 24, 2015.

Photo: Shutterstock