Every person at their place of work reports to an authoritative figure (unless you are that person). However, just because they are in a supervisor role, does not make them a leader.
Several characteristics separate a leader from a boss. Below is a closer look at seven characteristics of a leader and why a leader is preferred over someone who is just a boss.
What’s The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader
1. Leaders Lead by Example
A good leader will do everything they expect their employees to do, while a boss demands something from their employees and does not hold themselves to the same standard.
For example, if a supervisor expects employees to come in at a certain time, then they should be there at that time, if not earlier.
Leaders set a good example for their employees to follow and to strive to be better.
2. Leaders Mentor
A boss is only interested in getting their employees to get their work done quickly and accurately because it will make them look good.
A leader takes their time and mentors their employees and assists them in various areas to help them grow and learn about the company.
Leaders take great pride in their employees and invest time in them to help them succeed.
3. A Leader Works Alongside Their Team
A leader is always found with their team, guiding them and helping them wherever needed along the way.
On the other hand, a boss tells his or her employees about a project and expects them to get it done in as little time as possible. A boss does not invest the time to groom their employees.
For a boss, it is about getting the work done right now. Leaders look into the future and invest time in their employees to help them succeed.
4. Leaders Build Confidence
A leader invests much time in their employees and builds their confidence and trust, while a boss builds fear in their employees.
A boss likes to stay in charge and will use fear in their employees to keep them wondering if they are doing a good enough job.
A leader will groom and teach their employees so they can learn and climb the ladder, whereas a boss does not want their employees to advance.
5. A Leader Asks and a Boss Demands
Leaders are still authoritative figures to their employees, but their approach is very different.
A boss will demand things from their employees, where a leader asks for certain items. A leader has a more caring approach with their employees.
6. A Leader Shows Respect
Leaders treat their employees with respect when it comes to their work, family life, and other aspects.
A boss rarely invests any time getting to know their employees. For a boss, an employee is just another person getting work completed for them.
7. A Leader Delegates
Bosses are more interested in demanding things from their employees and sitting back while they do all the work.
A leader delegates the work effectively and efficiently to make sure each employee gets a fair amount of work. Not only that, but a leader will work with their employees, especially against a deadline.
Leaders and Bosses are very different when it comes to the workplace. Employees respect a leader a lot more than a boss.
4 Principles to Effective Team Leadership
The need to effectively manage others is becoming an increasingly important skill, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur.
In that vein, here are four principles to effective team leadership:
Leadership isn’t something you are born with, it’s a skill that you can learn.
In life, as well as business, we could all do with evolving in the sense of continuously growing rather than resting on our laurels and plateauing once reaching a particular position; and this is particularly true for business owners.
The mistake many leaders make is they do indeed rest on their laurels once reaching a particular level and this is where arrogance can creep in.
The truth is, unless you’re open to evolving and expanding your knowledge then your knowledge and approach might quickly become outdated.
Be The Captain
Of course, there’s a fine line between being a leader and that of a dictator, but it’s an important quality for budding entrepreneurs to possess, as it’s important you take the reins and steer your team in the right direction with enough assertiveness to ensure people listen.
That said, your assertiveness should be directional rather than dictatorial, as nobody likes being told what to do in the sense of having orders barked at them.
It can be a difficult balancing act, as on the one hand you don’t want to be so assertive people lose motivation and feel henpecked, yet it’s equally important people respect your requests and take the required action.
It’s important you allow people to “own their task” in the sense that everybody values having the sense of autonomy and purpose with regard to their work. But similarly, you do need to provide enough direction and structure for your team to follow.
The challenge, if you start micromanaging, is that your team will quickly get fed up and deflated.
They will feel disempowered and disrespected in their ability to get the job done and it will come across as if you don’t value or trust their contribution to a task.
Indeed, micromanaging is one of the quickest ways to lose the support of your team.
There are, of course, times when you do need to be on people’s back, such as in matters of continual absence. Yet there are automated time and attendance management systems that can take of the bulk of this.
Meaning you only need to interact with people on this front when issuing a warning or checking everything is okay.
Use Both The Carrot and The Stick
You’ll have probably heard of the metaphor about the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.
The metaphor encourages you to think of a donkey that has a carrot dangled in front of him.
The donkey moves toward the carrot because he is moving toward the pleasure associated with the reward (i.e. pleasure).
Then, on the other hand, the man leading the donkey might have a stick to whack the donkey (i.e. pain) and therefore as the donkey want to avoid the pain of being hit with the stick he keeps moving away.
In psychology, there are two broad types of people when it comes to motivation theory. Those that are driven more toward the gain of pleasure and those that prioritize getting away from pain.
Most people have a mixture of both types, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a particular person.
You can see this in personal relationships too, as often the person motivated toward pleasure will go to great lengths to surprise their partner. Whilst those motivated away from pain, will do ‘what they have to do’ in order to avoid the pain of arguments.
Get to know your team and see what motivates them to take action.
Is it the possibility of reward or is it the avoidance of emotional pain (i.e. stress, embarrassment, not feeling good enough)?
The key principle is to understand what motivates each team member and then frame your requests in a way that resonates with their predominant motivation (i.e. toward pleasure or away from pain).
You need to communicate in the same language as them.
The person that only cares about avoiding pain, for instance, will not be motivated by you promising all sorts of pleasure if they do something well.
They will only be motivated by the avoidance of pain (such as being fired). Whilst the person seeking pleasure will potentially just leave, if you try motivating them with the ‘stick’ as all they care about is gaining pleasure.
And if that’s not on offer, meaning if there’s no reward for their good work, then they will not get their emotional needs met no matter how good a job they do.