Every organisation has a boss, but not all companies have an effective leader. Any person can start barking orders, give unconstructive criticisms, and push people to get things done.
You can find at least one of them in every office – walking around and acting like they did everything. However, that does not automatically grant them the title of a leader.
Keep in mind that several qualities separate a boss from a real leader. These qualities make the difference between a workplace that fosters productivity and a place that breeds stress and frustration.
Here are five ways to distinguish whether you have a boss or a leader:
1. A true leader says “we”
A true leader believes that the members of the group are equals. Without leadership, a team will be in confusion and skills will be wasted. However, without the workforce, great leadership means nothing. These two components are essential to the success of a company, and leaders acknowledge this equality with the way they talk.
While a boss says I, true leaders use the word we, especially when referring to company goals. In tough times, a true leader would say “we have to stay focused and keep grinding” – whereas a boss would simply say “you should focus and work harder”. This alone has a positive psychological effect on the entire workforce.
Likewise, they are accountable for the accomplishments and failures of everyone. Moreover, most importantly, they take part in the action through guidance rather than watch and criticise from the sidelines.
“Sometimes, especially when trying something new, team members need assistance. Get actively involved not in doing the work of the team member but in teaching them how to do it.” – Mark Sanborn
2. A true leader is your colleague
A leader works just as hard, if not harder than everyone else. They take the organisation’s problems as their own and they are always willing to lend a helping hand.
By working with the team, a leader also nurtures one of the most important things in life – friendship. It sounds cheesy, but it is one of the best ways to maintain a productive work environment. It boosts morale and bolsters the team’s confidence – knowing that their leader always has their back.
3. A true leader inspires
A boss will often exercise their authority by inspiring fear and forcing productivity. This might work for the short-term, but it endangers the team’s motivation in the long run.
To preserve a harmonious work environment, a real leader prepares the team through inspiration. They acknowledge talent and will encourage members to develop and leverage them to accomplish company objectives. Furthermore, they make sure everyone is aligned and strives for the company’s vision. In turn, they nurture mutual respect between everyone within the organisation.
4. A true leader focuses on people
A boss will do anything, even sacrifice the will of the team, just to make sure everything follows due process. They are obsessed with protocols that they forget that people run the company and not rules. A true leader knows this and will often lean towards the needs of the people.
Remember that a true leader will prioritize the personal development of the workforce. They do not merely use people to push goals. Rather, they guide them in a way that they’ll also grow as individuals.
5. A true leader learns
A boss has a mindset that they already know everything, if not much more than everyone else in the company. In turn, they often ignore feedback and undermine their capacity to grow.
Whenever making a critical decision, a leader will always think about how it will benefit every member. They often seek feedback and input whenever making such decisions. This motivates employees by letting them know that their opinions matter. Lastly, a leader is open-minded to new ideas and will give credit to who deserves it.
“A leader is both a teacher and a student. They are willing to accept criticism from members just as much as they are willing to give theirs,” – David Kiger
The discrepancies between a boss and a leader are significant enough to make the difference between success and failure. A boss may be useful in pushing productivity for the short-term, but a leader sees the bigger picture and focuses on the long-term.
Ultimately, they value relationships between people as opposed to hierarchical connections. These relationships are the catalyst that will hold an organisation together in pursuit of success.