I read something a while back that has to be one of my favorite articles ever. The title was THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOSS AND A LEADER from Officevibe. Here are the highlights of the article and some of my personal thoughts.
Leaders Are Compassionate
Emiliana Simon-Thomas, of UC Berkeley, believes that while empathy is important, compassion is even more important, because compassion is when you actually act on your empathy. “If someone is suffering from a cold, it’s one thing to feel their pain, and it’s another to cook them some chicken soup.” For me empathy comes easy, but I’ve learned that sometimes I can take empathy too far. I’ve learned that I need to keep a balance between being a good leader and getting into “TMI” (too much information) or being unfair to others by giving someone “too much empathy” (letting things slide because of what is going on in their personal life).
Leaders Are Inclusive
The words we use can have a dramatic effect on how we are perceived. “We” enforces a team-atmosphere. Instead of saying “I did…”, try to say “we did…”, even if it was only you who did the work you can make it an inclusive team effort.
Leaders Don’t Micromanage
Good leaders know that their people make them successful! They know they can’t micromanage everything; they know they have to help their team grow and develop. Why is micromanaging bad? It slows the team down, it doesn’t let employees grow and learn new skills, it destroys motivation, and it removes the leader from other big picture work he/she could be doing. A smart leader delegates, and is there to provide feedback and answer questions. I’ve been micromanaged and I HATED it. So, I try not to do it!
Leaders Earn Respect
Good leaders know they need to earn respect over time and they work hard early on to earn it. They also know the secret – give respect to earn it – they show their employees the respect they deserve. I definitely want to be respected and I work to earn it from others. I try to respect others as I know that is a key to being respected. However, if I am being honest with you, I know that when I don’t feel respected, I have more of a challenge in showing to someone that I think doesn’t have the same level of respect for me.
Leaders Don’t Use People, They Develop Them
This one is all about how people perceive their employees and is related to Leaders Earn Respect. “If you don’t respect your employees, you’ll use them…” Good leaders look at their employees as humans, with the potential to grow, so good leaders will work to develop people. Good leaders make time for one on ones and give their employees constructive feedback to help them get better. Coaching and mentoring is something I am passionate about. It is why I decided to pursue my coaching certification. There are many people in my past that helped me develop and grow. I hope that those who have worked for me feel the same way about me.
Leaders Say “Let’s Go”
Good leaders understand that they are as much a part of the team as their employees. If you have the attitude that employees work for you, then you can call yourself a boss. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work alongside your employees, then you can consider yourself a leader. Good leaders lead by example!
Leaders Take Blame And Give Credit
Officevibe says “This is mostly a question of confidence and ego”. Good leaders don’t care about getting credit; they are happy to give it to their employees to make them feel proud and engaged. Good leaders are also happy to take the blame, even if it wasn’t their fault, in order to not disengage employees. Bosses need that credit to feed their ego; they don’t take the blame and often look to see where they can assign blame. I try very hard to use “we” because in most cases, “I” didn’t do it all…my team was an integral part of it and they are an integral part whether the results are good or bad. When it is good, I share the kudos and when it isn’t I try to minimize the “blame game” and use it as a learning experience.
Leaders Think Long Term
A lot of this has to do with a company’s values and mission. If something doesn’t satisfy the values or the long term vision, then it doesn’t get done. One thing I try to do with all L&D programs I'm involved with is tie them to the company culture.
Leaders Are Your Colleagues
Officevibe believes that, “What leaders should want to do is create a culture where everyone is the same. … it removes the notion that someone is above you and better than you. Everyone has something to offer, and everyone deserves to be treated the same.” Good leaders know that treating everyone as equals is a smart move.
Leaders Are Focused On People
People are a leader’s best asset. Let employees take reasonable risks and try new things. Employees have great ideas, and are often eager to share them when given a chance. Peter Drucker said, "The organization is, above all, social. It is people." A sentiment I’ve always shared in leadership development courses I’ve facilitated over the past 16 years is this – an organization’s biggest asset is its people; computers, machines, etc. are assets, but they don’t accomplish much without people. As leaders we need to treat people as if they are our biggest assets…because they are!