There’s a big difference between being a Boss, and just being bossy. There’s a difference, too, between being “in charge” and true leadership.
Take this, for example: boss (bôs, bs)n.1. a. An employer or a supervisor.b. One who makes decisions or exercises authority.
This is the description that I found for the word “Boss” in an online dictionary. It’s an ok description, as far as it goes… but I think that there’s more to it than that.
Being “in charge” means that you can tell people what to do. You have power and authority over them, yes, and for the most part, they have to do what you tell them to. They don’t necessarily have to be willing, or be happy and cooperative about it, they just have to do it. Whatever it is. This used to be known as slavery.
Being a “boss” can mean this, but the good bosses know that simply being in charge, doesn’t mean that you’ll get the level of productivity, or the atmosphere of true teamwork and willing cooperation, you could have, simply by changing how you boss.
And the best “Bosses” are also Leaders. They not only have the authority that goes with the big chair in the big office, they also have the skills necessary to ensure that the machine runs more or less smoothly and productively.
I found some principles of leadership online, meant originally for training rescue workers, but it works in many different fields, with only minor descriptive changes:
1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement (Knowing your skills and limitations is one of the first steps toward reaching for new goals. If you don’t know your limitations – how can you stretch yourself and strive to be and do better?)
2. Be technically and tactically proficient. (Being able to “do the job” just like everyone else, in an efficient and effective manner, and doing it correctly, shows others that it can be done. It also inspires confidence in you because you “know whereof you speak”.
3. Know when the situation is too much, beyond your capabilities. (Again, it’s about knowing your limitations. It’s one thing to stretch for a new goal, it’s another to reach so high, you fall flat on your face. This is not confidence-boosting, for you, or for those around you.)
4. Make sound and timely decisions. (Waffling on a decision does not inspire confidence. If you are supposed to be “in charge”, you’re supposed to be able to make the big decisions. Don’t wait until they get made for you.)
5. Set the example. (The best leaders know that they should never ask of their followers what they’re not willing to do themselves.)
6. Praise in public – criticize in private. (Definitely. This is so important, I cannot stress this one enough. Criticism in the workplace is sometimes necessary, but it should always strive to be constructive, showing others where improvement can be found. And belittling a co-worker or employee in front of others, or please forbid, in front of customers is horrible business practice. Praise, on the other hand, shows that you value your co-worker/employee, building a level of trust in you that they know that they are appreciated, and you are willing for others to see that.)
7. Know your staff – their limitations and capabilities. (Leading means being in front, and showing others how to get ahead. You can’t help them get there if you don’t know what they’re capable of, and what their stumbling blocks may be.)
8. Keep your team members informed. (When people are kept in the dark, they feel as though they aren’t trusted. And if they don’t feel trustworthy, they will assume that you don’t care if they stay or go, and will start looking around for other opportunities.)
9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your staff members. (Responsibility for the job, toward you, toward the ultimate goal of serving the customer, ultimately it’s all about responsibility toward themselves, because if the job is well done, then the staff moves ahead, as does the business. If they don’t feel responsible – they don’t care about the outcome, so why put forth their best efforts?)
10. Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished. (Being a Leader isn’t just about delegation, it’s about the follow-up. If you don’t occasionally peek your head around the corner to see how things are going, the staff will think you don’t care, so neither will they.)
11. Train your staff as a team. (Teams pull together to get to their goal. And if the individuals are made to feel a part of that team, they will have a vested interest in working together, making sure everyone gets to the finish line.)
12. Stress safety, reason and common sense, balancing the risks and work necessary, with the task to be accomplished. (There is a line between working hard, and overworking. Good Leaders can see that line coming, and stop their people short of it, conserving energy and safeguarding their people. Again, this shows the staff that you care about their welfare, and will only make them more loyal and trusting of your leadership.)
I think, that the basic value of good leadership is something that is priceless, tangible only in the level of loyalty inspired in your followers/staff. A good Leader will have many willing, happy followers, who will stick by them in the harder times, knowing that their work is appreciated, and that during the better times, it will pay off for everyone.
Those who are just in it to “be in charge”, will soon find that they have no one following them, and are, in fact, “in charge” of nothing.
One last point…
I posted on my facebook page last night that “Courtesy is a necessary commodity between human beings, and when that is forgotten, or selfishly ignored, resentment and rebellion follow close behind.” Leaders, good leaders, know that courtesy is one of the most important virtues they can have. Because without it, the team is broken down by hurt feelings, followed swiftly by that resentment, and ends in rebellion, or an outright break-away from that leadership. And what you’re left with is a handful of angry individuals, working because they have to, not because they want to.
I had the difference between Leadership and “being in charge” shown to me yesterday, in bold and glaring colors. I am blessed in that I have a Boss that I followed from one company to another, because I wanted to follow her. She is a Leader, by example, and with courtesy. She appreciates each of the team members, even when things get rough going. Actually, even more so then. And the difference after she left for a vacation was palpable within minutes. One of the other staff members, who is not a manager, or a boss, or a person in any kind of “supervisory” position, decided to hand down “orders”, and delegated them to people who really shouldn’t have received them. There were others more capable of handling the tasks, but this was not the way they were given out. And when it was called attention to, instead of admitting the error, and seeking to fix it, more orders, delivered with discourteous and outright rude dismissals, were given.
My Boss deserves her vacation. She is a Good Leader and has definitely earned a break.
I can’t wait till she gets back.