Every company has a boss, but not every company is fortunate enough to have a leader. The good news is that every boss has the potential to be a leader by sharpening their skills in several key areas. Communication skills, work habits, inspiration tactics and teaching strategies constitute the differences between a boss and a leader.
Effective leaders spend time listening to their employees rather than talking above them. They understand the value of seeking and incorporating the opinions of others into the decision-making process. On the other hand, bosses tend to dominate the conversation. They expect to say “jump” and hear “how high?” while giving little to no direction.
True leaders work just as hard, if not harder than those who they lead. While a boss will sit back and “supervise,” a leader rolls up their sleeves and jumps in the trenches with their employees. They watch over the progress of work, make adjustments where necessary and aid team members. They choose to be a part of the team rather than bossing the team around.
A leader inspires the team to grow, learn, and succeed. A leader will recognize employee’s strengths and utilize them, while also helping to build up their weaknesses. A boss, on the other hand, struggles to recognize individual strengths while honing in on weaknesses. A leader provides an environment for the employees to think for themselves and solve problems independently. Instead of being defensive, a leader is playing offense, helping his team become more productive and making situations better instead of placing blame when things go wrong.
A true leader is a perpetual teacher. They are constantly looking for ways to grow their team. According to Alan O’Rourke, if an employee is facing a roadblock and goes to the manager for a solution, a leader will help the employee troubleshoot the issue and demonstrate she has confidence in him, instead of just telling him exactly how to solve the problem. This teaching quality will give confidence to the employee that they can move forward, add value, and problem-solve on their own. A true leader is always teaching.
A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires them to innovate, think creatively, and strive for perfection. Every team has a boss, but what people need is a leader who will help them achieve greatness. A true leader makes this happen through their communication, work habits, inspiration tactics and teaching skills.