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Jan
26

Boss or Leader?

By

Leadership is Service, Not Position – Tim Fargo

William had been newly appointed to the position of leading a team, of which he had previously been a part. As a technical expert, people often looked up to him for support and to help find solutions to problems. A gentle, intelligent person, William doubted his ability to lead and was very nervous about how he might be perceived by his peers. Unfortunately he was being mentored by his Boss who had no idea how a true leader leads his people.

He was told to distance himself from the team he led, so people would respect his new “position” and he was told to be ruthless in his stance of demanding excellence regardless of what excuses were presented. Much though it went against the grain, William took this advice and gradually started to change from a  helpful much loved person to someone to be feared.

With time, however, as he began to  see every relationship he had built break down and people begin to resist and avoid his new found “Leadership” style, he began to reflect on what really worked for him that was consistent with his original gentle approach and discovered he was able to not only get better results from his team, but that he was also beginning to grow and feel happier. His Boss of course was not happy with him, despite the improved team results and eventually William left the company for fresh professional pastures.

How often do our careers get interrupted by the wrong examples and advice? Here are a few tips to recognize the difference between a being a Boss and being a Leader!

1. How do you Lead your Team?

A Boss will typically drive them to achieve results even at the cost of their personal and professional health, and typically leave the team feeling trapped, bullied or manipulated, exhausted, miserable and looking for a way out.

A Leader however will set the direction or expectations he has from the team, and will coach them effectively to give their best effort and find their own way towards the  end goal. This process inevitably grows the team, restores their self confidence in their ability and they will stretch and grow to produce outstanding results!

2. What is the source of their authority ?

A Boss is typically imposed upon the team by appointment..sometimes warranted and sometimes not. He typically has not earned the right to lead by example or has poor models for leadership.  He frequently refers to his position  either directly or implicitly in order to get things done.

A Good Leader depends on Goodwill and has earned the right to Lead not by virtue of his position but because he has taken care to build solid relationships and engage his team personally by his nurturing and caring, so that team members will follow him to the ends of the earth, just because of the kind of person he is.

3. What is the impact on the Team?

A Boss gets results often with veiled threats of dire consequences if there is a failure to meet the objectives and often ignoring the reasons why it could not be done. As a  result the team members work out of fear of losing their jobs, their livelihood and usually give their bare minimum.

A Leader generates excitement, enthusiasm and inspires his team to stretch beyond their imagination to achieve phenomenal results that they may have never thought themselves capable of achieving. The Team’s morale is often very high and team members are extremely willing to give of their time, energy and abilities.

4. How does he identify with the Team?

A Boss sees himself as a cut above the rest, safe in his ivory tower and often refers to his team as “They” to represent his separation from them.

A Leader sees himself as part of the team, albeit holding a different role sometimes, and invariably refers to the team as We and Us and Our Results. He sees himself as an intrinsic part of the team and its results.  The Team rallies around and ensures that the results will take everyone forward.

5. When Things go Wrong

A Boss will immediately do his “due diligence” and find the weak spot and ascribe blame to a certain individual or  group of individuals, justifying his position to senior management with a well thought out excuse for failing to bring in the desired results.

A Leader on the other hand is just as thorough in his effort to find out the cause of failure, but once identified, will brainstorm with his team on how to solve or fix it. There is no fingerpointing only a desire to serve his team by ensuring they get the right training and are equipped to succeed in the future. Typically he will take ownership of the results.

6. Walking the Talk

A Boss often may have the technical know how on how to do something but is reluctant to share it with the team, saying its not my job! Oftentimes, he may not know how to do something and will say, it is not my job to know how that is done and that’s why I get the big bucks! As a result team members often get lost in their efforts without guidance or direction.

A Leader on the other hand, if he knows how to do something, will show others how to do it, and will especially take care of new  members to ensure they know and understand the ropes. In some circumstances a Leader may not know , or is not required to know the technical details of the job, but will take it upon himself to either find out or to make sure that someone who does can provide the assistance that is needed by his team .

7.  Interaction with People

A Boss typically manipulates and uses people to get what he wants for himself or for the company and once he has got what he wants does not care about the individual’s welfare. This often makes people feel used and cast aside.

A Leader will sit and discuss things with his people, identify areas in which they need to develop and provide the resources or training or career path required to develop them. He may ask much of them, but much will aslo be invested in their development. People will feel nurtured and will continue to excel on the team and in their careers.

8. When Things go well

A Boss will take all the credit for the success of the team , and may give slight credit but often no credit to the hard working team that got the job done. Often the Boss gets the promotion as a result of his teams efforts.

A Leader finds ways to lift up the team members and will often give the entire credit to the team (and will often take the full blame if something did not work out as expected). This is a Leader that Teams love working with and will do anything to support!

9. Requests and Orders

A Boss has an expectation that whatever he commands them to do will be done…like a mini dictator! He often does not preface his requests with a  “please’ and may not consider any valid reasons why something cannot be done.

A Leader will always request a person to do something courteously and in the case of a  team, will try and get some buy in from all members  if possible before the team embarks on a new course of action. If something cannot be reasonably achieved he will work with the team to identify and remove any obstacles.

10. Inclusion

A Boss, as mentioned earlier, sees his own efforts as separate from the team and will expect them to “Go and Get the job done!”.

A Leader will include himself with the team, engage them in developing a plan for the team’s success and often will give himself a  well defined role within the plan so that every member including himself can get to action when he says “Let’s Go!”.

William learned the hard way that he was a natural leader and had the guts to step away from the bad example that was being set for him …and he has since made a success of his career. His Boss was eventually let go…because blaming poor results on the team can only take you so far!

Are you a Boss or a Leader? What is your style and how can you improve it?

 

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Categories : Leadership

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