We need more leaders, not bosses

The value of a leader in any business can not be understated.

If you and I were to start a conversation about your boss right now, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Don’t worry; I have also had different kinds of bosses. As a matter of fact, luckily for me, my last manager was more of a leader than a boss. He inspired me, and my team, to become better at our work. Actually, he was the reason I stayed in that job longer than I intended and I want to share with you the insights that I took from his leadership.

Head of Finance, Senior Product Manager, Project Manager or maybe Content Manager. These are all titles and with these titles come responsibilities and perhaps one of them is leading a team.

The question is — as a manager, do you want to be a boss or a leader?

We do not need more managers and bosses — organizations need leaders. And here I will explain why and list some key traits that differentiate bosses from leaders.

1A leader inspires performance.

A leader does not use the title to be empowered and gain authority. A leader empowers themselves through inspiring performance in others to do what it is needed to achieve a certain outcome.

2. A leader builds your confidence and listens more than they talk.

Leaders create confidence and wants his/her team to be good at their jobs. This doesn’t mean doing their work for them, however leaders help their team with the needed resources, information, and support to perform at a high level.

3. A leader seeks sustainable solutions.

Leaders teach why something should be done and provide guidance on how to achieve outcomes. They accentuate on the why, in order to ensure the resulted lessons learned are sustainable and transferable to other situations.

4. Leaders influence, they don’t command.

Instead of rushing the orders or commands through to meet deadlines, an effective leader will influence people by asking the right questions to incentivize creativity among the team and spark a “we can do it” attitude. The authority from a leader comes from their genuine ability to influence others.

5. A leader encourages and points out your strengths.

Leaders rely on their team to complete their job autonomously and are present to guide them, if needed. They establish a sense of hope for success. In the face of failure they do not criticize, they opt to encourage and point out natural talents. Furthermore, a leader must learn to identify strengths in order to co-locate and match the available resources — talents — to the appropriate problem or task.

6. A leader focuses on “we” and is part of the team

The most successful organizations let go of hierarchical differentiation. Leaders view themselves as part of the team they lead and consider their team members as equal contributors, not as subordinates They identify the needs of the team members and create a culture that encourages open and transparent communication. They talk in 1st person plural. Great leaders are aware of how important it is to make their team members feel valued, and they do so by inviting opinions and suggestions.

7. Leader takes accountability, instead of blaming others

When something goes wrong many bosses tend to blame others and, on the other hand, they take credit if something goes well. Leaders are the opposite; they are accountable when everything goes wrong, and assume responsibility and give credit to the team when things do go right.

8. A boss demands results, a leader asks for input

A boss and a leader have very different approaches. The leader asks for input. The boss demands results. This means leaders provide a compelling vision that others are eager to develop and execute because they see their input reflected on it. As a result, they feel more ownership and connection to the organization’s goals and success.

9. A leader wants you to be more successful than they are. A boss always wants to be the boss.

Positive leaders empower employees to accomplish their goals and develop further as individuals and grow their careers. A leader knows the importance of sharing their knowledge. They are open to learning in every situation and from those around them, while a boss constantly wants to teach a lesson. Learning is indispensable in leadership.

10. Leaders create leaders. Bosses have employees.

A leader would proudly build you up to be a leader and make your career progress plan a reality. Leaders hire the right people, inspire them, guide them and support their creativity and professional development.

Remember you can’t build a successful business and stay competitive without having the right people — including leaders — on board. Leaders build and establish trust within their teams. They delegate authority and provide their teams with the tools, the confidence, and the support they need to do their best work.

Clearly, every team needs a leader and their value in any organization can not be understimated. By nature leaders are great communicators and the way they communicate has an impact on the company’s success. Every supervisor and manager should consistently analyze their leadership styles to ensure they are leading their teams successfully.

When people first step into a supervisory role it is important to concentrate on developing leadership capabilities. If you want to be a leader in your space — and influence people — I encourage you to focus more on having a positive impact and lead to serve those who follow you.

Leaders know that it’s their job to make sure the path is clear of obstacles so that the team can be successful. Leaders don’t just sit in an office waiting for people to report to them, they roll up their sleeves and get to work. Leaders talk to their team members on a regular basis and invest time in getting to know them better so that they can personalize the way they motivate each individual.

By now we should realize that it is not only hitting targets that matters for leadership. Leaders are those who support team members and encourage them to do better, in order to help turn the company’s vision into reality. More than ever, in times of change and uncertainty, organizations need leaders that engage, empower and inspire innovation.

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