We all know the dreaded manager - boss figure portrayed in many comic strips and comedy films. The boss is typically yelling and calling for unimportant meetings while his workers sneak around the office trying to avoid being seen. Sometimes this happens in real life, but in most cases, these exaggerated characteristics are not the differences separating a boss from a leader.
Many bosses grew into their jobs after having been promoted and learned as they went. And while most strive to become a leader to their team, they may lack the tools and know-how of how to get there.
Understanding some differences between a boss and a leader can help your managers shape up and inspire their employees to enjoy their work and put in their best performance.
On the surface, the terms “boss” and “leader” are synonyms, but if you ask a team of employees, they will readily be able to identify which term best describes their manager. A leader inspires their team to go above and beyond, to take ownership of
a project, and to believe in what the leader is “selling”. Inspiring leaders are able to articulate their goals clearly and concisely, and they have the ability to rally others around them. They delegate, trust their team, and are able to make things happen in an organization.
Employees are excited to be a part of a leader’s team and don’t look at their leader as someone to avoid in the workplace. Leaders encourage and motivate their team members; they gain support for their ideas by sharing openly, listening to what others have to say, and taking others opinions into account;
they allow team members to learn through mistakes and exploring new avenues. A leader serves their team and sets an example for their team, and does not feel threatened by highly skilled team members.
Leaders Influence & Persuade
Influence and persuasion are learned skills. Some of us learn it when we are younger and become quite skilled, but for many of us it takes some time, and trial and error, before being able to influence others.
Influence is not just about getting people to do what you want them to. It's about understanding your own biases and emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and working within that environment to move the organization forward.
Emotional Intelligence plays a significant role in learning how to influence and persuade others. How we interact, communicate, and empathize with others
determines how successful we are at work and as leaders. Influence is about building consensus, and those with high EQ are great at influencing and persuading others.
Relationships & Connection
A common joke about work is that it would be great if it weren't for the people. Great leaders don't believe this one iota. People are the lifeblood of any organization and those who take time to learn about their team members and build true, honest connections with them are the ones that have the greatest success. People do leave their managers, and often it's because they feel undervalued, not respected, or that they are just a number to the manager and easily replaceable.
Leaders have a responsibility to build connection with their teams, and connection with the organization. Relationships are always a two way street, and taking the time to know who is who on your team, what their interests are, their goals, and their challenges will create 'stickiness' - to you as their leader, and to the organization. Relationships and connection translate into a higher retention rate.
A leader is constantly making connections with their team so that everyone feels heard, seen, and valued. They communicate the complexities of issues in a way that all employees will understand, and demonstrate accountability, helping the team to move forward through barriers and understand the “why” of what they do. A leader helps their team to feel connected to the cause, as well as safe, wanted, and valued in the workplace. Employees feel that their presence, their ideas, and their contributions matter.
Above all, a leader is approachable. They are open to questions and are happy to explain the reasons behind a situation. Their open-door policy invites the team to communicate with them and build a relationship, helping the employee to invest in the company and see themselves as a vital part of the organization.