Are You a Leader or Just Bossy?


by Aileron

The word “boss” conjures up an idea that with this title, every manager can now magically get employees to do whatever they need. The simple image is that when they tell someone to do something, they immediately go do it. This may work in the movies, but unfortunately in a small business, this is far from the truth. Employees these days are far too independent and a company’s workforce is typically too geographically dispersed for this to be effective.

In fact, being “bossy” as a small business owner only adds to the weight of managing people by trying to control them. It separates out a group of people trying to work together for a single goal and creates distance when collaboration is sorely needed. It ultimately sets up an external system based only on penalties and rewards. This very old management style is proving to be less valuable over time. Although every successful organization has formal hierarchies, they are more effective when they do not have to be rigidly enforced. If a manager has to tell an employee that they need to do a certain task and then constantly checks to see if it was done, the organization will never be successful. Furthermore, if the manager has to threaten the employee to complete a task, then that employee is not a valuable addition to the team.

Being a leader is about engaging employees and fostering their loyalty. Great leaders do not use threats and traditional control tactics, but take actions that yield commitment and loyalty. It is ineffective to try to keep track of what every employee is doing. In fact, this puts the burden of getting the job done on the boss rather than the employee. Great leaders are able to motivate their employees to work hard by getting them to believe in the mutual benefits of a common goal. They set an example as someone willing to work along side of an employee, rather than traditionally working from far above them.

Which are you: a boss or a leader?

9 Subtle Traits Of The Most Talented Leaders

by Jeff Haden

Good bosses look good on paper. Great bosses look great in person; their actions show their value.
Yet some bosses go even farther. They’re remarkable—not because of what you see them do but what you don’t see them do.

Where remarkable bosses are concerned, what you see is far from all you get:

1. They forgive… and they forget

When an employee makes a mistake—especially a major mistake—it’s easy to forever view that employee through the perspective of that mistake.
I know. I’ve done it.
But one mistake, or one weakness, is just one part of the whole person.
Great bosses are able to step back, set aside a mistake, and think about the whole employee.
Remarkable bosses are also able to forget that mistake, because they know that viewing any employee through the lens of one incident may forever impact how they treat that employee.
And they know the employee will be able to tell.
To forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.

2. They transform company goals into the employees’ personal goals.

Great bosses inspire their employees to achieve company goals.
Remarkable bosses make their employees feel that what they do will benefit them as much as it does the company. After all, whom will you work harder for: A company or yourself?

Whether they get professional development, an opportunity to grow, a chance to shine, a chance to flex their favorite business muscles, employees who feel a sense of personal purpose almost always outperform employees who feel a sense of company purpose. And they have a lot more fun doing it. Remarkable bosses know their employees well enough to tap the personal, not just the professional.

3. They look past the action to the emotion and motivation.

Sometimes employees make mistakes or simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes they take over projects or roles without approval or justification. Sometimes they jockey for position, play political games, or ignore company objectives in pursuit of personal goals.

When that happens it’s easy to assume they don’t listen or don’t care. But almost always there’s a deeper reason: They feel stifled, they feel they have no control, they feel marginalized or frustrated—or maybe they are just trying to find a sense of meaning in their work that pay rates and titles can never provide.

Effective bosses deal with actions. Remarkable bosses search for the underlying issues that, when overcome, lead to much bigger change for the better.

4. They support without seeking credit.

A customer is upset. A vendor feels shortchanged. A coworker is frustrated. Whatever the issue, good bosses support their employees. They know that to do otherwise undermines the employee’s credibility and possibly authority.

Afterword, most bosses will say to the employee, “Listen, I took up for you, but…”
Remarkable bosses don’t say anything. They feel supporting their employees—even if that shines a negative spotlight on themselves—is the right thing to do and is therefore unremarkable.

Even though we all know it isn’t.

5. They make fewer public decisions.

When a decision needs to be made, most of the time the best person to make that decision isn’t the boss. Most of the time the best person is the employee closest to the issue. Decisiveness is a quality of a good boss. Remarkable bosses can be decisive but often in a different way: They decide they aren’t the right person and then decide who is the right person. They do it not because they don’t want to avoid making those decisions but because they know they shouldn’t make those decisions.

6. They don’t see control as a reward.

Many people desperately want to be the boss so they can finally call the shots.
Remarkable bosses don’t care about control. As a result they aren’t seen to exercise control.
They’re seen as a person who helps.

Read more:

8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses by Geoffrey James

Apr 23, 2012

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.

A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.

Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”

Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.

Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.

Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.

Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.

Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.

Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.

Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

Retention and the Conductor

Why is retaining a good staff important?  Here are some answers to that:
  • Any changes that occur in the company can be made more nimbly with an experienced staff
  • Customer satisfaction can be higher
  • Results are achieved
  • Stress can be reduced
  • Cross-training occurs
Simply put, if you are fully staffed, you can more easily focus on the things that will move your department/company forward vs living in moments of crisis when someone calls in sick or during vacations, etc.  What environment do you want to live in?
You probably are a qualified, talented performer on your own.  That’s how you got to be where you are today.  You love to excel.  What if you could multiply who you are?  You can!
Think about an orchestra conductor.  This person loves music and is a musician in their own right.  They love to make music.  But put that conductor on the pedestal, give them a baton, and presto!  They work with violinists, cellists, trumpeters, drummers, oboists, etc.  All of these instruments have a critical role in making a piece of music come to life – something that audiences (customers) want to listen to.  An effective conductor cannot afford to have the French horn section missing. The performance would be lacking.
But when the full orchestra strikes that first note, something beautiful and moving happens.  One conductor creates wonderful music with the force of many.  The conductor on his/her own can’t play all of the instruments, but each musician plays their part at the right time to make the magic happen.
What kind of tune are you producing in your “orchestra”?
Strive to keep your “band” together.  Enjoy the experience of conducting your team to excellence.  Let them know that their part in the music is critical for the overall success of your department and company.  Encourage them to develop in their role.  Do your part to make them better.  Praise them for their great performance.
Retention can be a beautiful thing!

How to Get Your Boss’s Attention

As a manager, there are many times that you need to capture the attention of your boss:

  • You need some help with an issue.
  • You want to increase your staffing.
  • You want to purchase new equipment.
  • You want a raise

The list could go on…

Have you ever found yourself calling a colleague (or your spouse) to whine about how your boss doesn’t listen or pay attention or is never there when you want them to be?  Getting your boss’s attention starts far earlier than most of us realize.  Here are some pointers to help you get heard:

  1. Get Results. If you are not performing…if you are not meeting expectations…if you are missing your goals, then you have your boss’s attention for all of the wrong reasons.  If you want to be heard on what you believe are the truly important issues, then you had better be performing.
  2. Help Them.  Believe it or not, your boss faces his/her own challenges.  Become a trusted resource for them.  Offer to help them with a project.  Listen to them as they talk about what they have on their plate.  If you can take some of that work off of it, you become more valuable to your boss.
  3. Make Them Look Good.  This is closely related to #1.  When you exceed your numbers, your boss looks good.  When your team discovers an efficiency and communicates it out to the company resulting in operational cost cutting, your boss looks good.  When make a positive impact in your community, your boss looks good.
  4. Listen to Them.  Your boss maybe feeling the same way you are.  Be an active listener and help come up with solutions to issues that your boss is facing.  You’ll learn something in this process.

Your boss is human.  You can go far when you employ some or all of these pointers.

Caution:  if you approach your boss with insincerity or a manipulative spirit, it will be revealed.  Integrity says to be genuine in your interactions with your boss.  It will pay off.