Natalie Fix
Oct 16, 2015

How to Be a Leader – Not a Boss – to Get the Most From Your Employees

A special post in celebration of Boss's Day

As employees across the country observe Boss’s Day today, it is a great time for managers at all levels to examine the effectiveness of their leadership style.

Though the technical definition of a “boss” is someone who supervises employees, simply being a supervisor does not naturally make you a leader. To motivate your employees to do the best job possible, you must transition from being a “boss” to being a true leader.

To help distinguish between a boss and a leader, ask yourself:

  • Do I talk at my employees or do I really listen to them and share ideas?
  • Do I demand (projects, results, etc.) or do I motivate employees to strive for common goals?
  • Are employees scared of me or do I have a rapport so they feel valued, both as a team member and as a person?

Simply put, leaders lead

Instead of just barking orders and expecting employees to blindly follow, leaders lead the team toward completing common goals. Leaders who connect and engage with their employees often demonstrate a willingness to also perform tasks they request of their team. Leaders are ready to advise, engage in discussion and listen to any feedback an employee has to offer.

This give-and-take approach fosters employee confidence to both follow the leader and to take risks. Leaders know that when employees are empowered, motivation is higher, productivity escalates and retention increases.

Leaders go the extra mile

One of the best things about leaders is their ability and willingness to prepare a group for the tasks at hand. If colleagues are not prepared for certain duties, leaders must be there to support, teach and back them up. Leaders know that each employee is on the team for a reason and appreciates individual efforts.

A “boss” often tells employees to complete a task but may not fully equip them for the work at hand; Too often in this scenario, employees are afraid that if they fail at a project they’ll be subject to reprimand or discharge. A leader is available to guide employees through the process.

Communication is key when it comes to being a good leader. Leaders listen to their team and actively seek their thoughts on critical topics. Leaders share information, check in as needed and clearly communicate expectations. A boss does not always share information or empower the team.

 A leader is willing to learn, but a boss already knows it all

A true leader is not too arrogant or embarrassed to learn from those with less seniority or status. Leaders respect the skills and experience colleagues – even junior level ones – bring to the table.

When necessary, a leader offers constructive criticism, where a boss may focus on failures without seeing them as learning opportunities. A boss limits the creative process and self-expression, killing innovation and motivation. Inevitably, employees who fall under the management style of a boss cease to care or try because they see no value in making suggestions or questioning processes.

Even in stressful or busy times, leaders know that getting top results from the team means being aware of, and sensitive to, what employees have on their plates.  Leaders recognize that their workers are skilled and knowledgeable individuals who appreciate the opportunity to express opinions and feelings in any discussion that might impact work assignments. This approach generates better workforce performance than just barking orders and assigning tasks without considering current workloads or deadlines.

Take a good look at your management style – or that of your leadership team – and the overall attitude of your staff. If it’s time to make a change, leadership training is available to help. A few simple changes might make a world of difference to employee morale, productivity and, inevitably, profits.

Leadership Tips for Attracting, Engaging and Retaining a Multigenerational Workforce

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