Many discussions have come up concerning bosses and leaders. We have seen many people discourage individuals from being bosses and becoming leaders. The question though is, are bosses inherently bad and are leaders inherently good?
First, we will look at the definitions of the two words.
Who or What is a Boss?
A boss can be defined as a person who has and exercises authority or supervises workers.
A leader, on the other hand, is somebody with the ability to lead or create a following and inspire and motivate people.
Generally, a boss tends to be more of a manager and a leader. A boss must have some authority over some people to get the title while a leader doesn’t need to.
A leader has positive connotations. The moment anyone gets the ‘leader’ title means he is respected and appreciated by those who follow him and draw inspiration and motivation from him. We, however, note that the word boss comes with negative connotations. A boss is generally seen as someone who is controlling and doesn’t care about other people’s feelings.
Can Somebody be a Boss and a Leader?
Sometimes it’s hard to be a boss and a leader considering the different responsibilities bosses and leaders have. Bosses mostly are managers and trying to be a manager and a leader at the same time could be detrimental to your business.
Managers, for instance, are supposed to not feed their emotions when doing their job. Managers are supposed to dismiss when they should, give a pay cut when they should, be hard on the workers when they should. A leader is however like a good teacher who gives inspiration and motivation. A leader listens to his/her juniors. He/she can break the rules just to endear themselves to the juniors.
A manager can’t do that and doing that could see them make some really bad losses. Normally, I like to compare a leader to a grandparent of a child and a boss/manager to the mother of the child. Most of the time, grandparents are nice to grandchildren. They smile at them, play with them, tell them stories, and many kids love being around them. A parent, however, has to discipline the child. Once in a while a parent has to show a stern face, give a stern warning, ground a child, and in some countries and among some people, they even have to spank them. It is thus quite a challenge of a task trying to be a boss and a leader at the same time.
It is, however, possible to be a boss and a leader. In fact, whenever a boss is described as good, he’s already a leader because you can’t be a good boss and fail to exhibit most of the characteristics of a leader.
We are thus going to look at some characteristics of a leader and how a boss can use them to become a good boss thus becoming a good boss and a leader at the same time.
Don’t have Favorites
Good leaders care about the emotions of their followers. They use emotions to create inspirations and attach themselves to their juniors. This means good leaders avoid doing things that may hurt some of the workers. One of these things is being unfair to particular individuals. Luckily enough for the bosses, you don’t really have to run on emotions to achieve this. You can completely run on logic and still be able to be impartial. Of course, as a human being, it’s quite impossible never to have a favorite – the point is – never show it.
Always Remember your Employees are Human.
In business, managers are advised not to run on emotions. This has led to many managers completely disregarding the feelings of their employees. Some bosses only focus on production – anything else is out of the question. You can, however, pick this leadership trait of being human without compromising your work standards and production. Happy workers are more productive than unhappy ones. Treat your workers humanely, and they’ll be happy.
Listen to your Workers’ Ideas and be Open to Change
One characteristic of a good leader is the capability of listening to their workers or juniors or followers and trying out the ideas they come up with. However, leaders interact with their juniors way less than their bosses, and this is a tricky thing to try out like a boss. We, therefore, advise bosses to moderately listen to their juniors once in a while. This creates an environment of harmony and a feeling of belonging among the workers.
Accountability Shouldn’t be Limited to your Workers
A leader is someone who motivates and inspires. A leader can lead by simply being there and not actually interacting with their followers on a one on one basis. A leader just makes themselves the golden standard which he/she wants his/her followers to emulate.
A boss however also has the responsibility of instilling the discipline he/she expects in the workers. Many bosses end up just shouting orders and giving punishments to their juniors without even looking at the person. A good boss who wishes to be a leader should make sure they live up to the standards they intend to instill in their workers. If you want a corruption free organization, don’t be corrupt. If you want a clean environment, be clean. Always be accountable for your mistakes and never project mistakes you did to your workers. You’ll be shocked how you’ll have an easier time implementing your standards when you live up to them yourself.
Leaders create a connection with the people. To have people follow you, you must inspire them. You can’t inspire people if they fear you. Bosses, on the other hand, need to create a professional environment with their juniors which in many cases can’t be compromised with too much familiarity. Familiarity breeds contempt. However, a boss loses nothing by being polite.
You can exhibit leadership qualities by being polite when you speak to your workers. Sometimes always barking orders projects you as insecure and trying too hard to stamp your authority.
Support your Team
This leadership quality doesn’t necessarily mean you hold your worker’s hand. You can simply give them guidance where necessary and acknowledge their hard work.
Remove Obstacles for your Team
Good leaders make it easier for their followers to progress. Good leaders can accept temporary discomfort for the benefit of their followers. Generally, managers are forced to limit the choices of their workers. For the sake of productivity and meeting deadlines, managers may be forced to increase the working hours of the workers and be strict on reporting time for instance.
A good boss, however, can try their best to remove obstacles for his workers rather than increase them. Providing a better working environment, improving their working conditions and generally showing care is a good step. A small task like ensuring the computers used by the workers are always in good condition can see you go a long way.
Don’t Just Ask, Demonstrate
Good leaders can be good leaders for just being there and being themselves. They don’t have to make orders or ask for anything to be done. They create a kind of lifestyle such that just being there inspires the workers to do something.
Many bosses just bark orders without understanding what the workers go through. Some workers may be going through challenges and may not exactly understand what they should do – a boss wishing to be a good leader demonstrates rather than ask or order. Once in a while pick that tool and start working with your workers.
One prominent characteristic of a good leader is the ability to trust and have faith in his/her followers. Some bosses, however, don’t understand that it’s the people under them that make a company successful. They act as if they are the only ones who know what they are doing in the company and would want to supervise every little thing happening in the company.
Micromanagement slows your team, demotivates your team, slows the growth of members of your team and causes you not to perform more important tasks that you should be performing rather than micromanaging your team.
A good boss delegates duties to juniors. This improves their self-esteem and respect for you.
Develop People Rather than Using Them
I once worked for a construction company and was the supervisor of the casual laborers. One day I noticed that the workers had left some of the tools outside the store. I took them back to the store. My immediate boss came and found me opening the store and was very mad that I was doing a casual laborers job. I explained to him that they had already left, but he barked and insisted I should have called one of them back because he pays them to do that job and they must do it. I later realized many bosses have a similar mentality – they pay their workers and thus must use them as much as they like.
That’s really a bad approach to business. A worker is a human being who just like you also wishes to progress in life. Developing your workers earns you respect and makes you an example surrounded by successful people who respect you. Good leaders support, they don’t use.