How to Be a True Leader, Not Just a Boss
Developing leadership skills is crucial to elevate a business—no matter its size—to new heights. If you are in a higher position, tasked to manage a team, it is essential to transition from being just a boss to a true leader. It will not only push your organization to hit its goals, but it’ll also extraordinarily transform your workforce and how you do business.
While often used interchangeably, there are many stark differences between a boss and a leader. You may think that being in a position where you command your people to do things makes you, by default, a leader. It is not. To be a true leader, you shouldn’t just be on the commanding side, but you should be a good servant too.
Moreover, a leader can positively affect their followers that even without specific commands, they will proactively do their best work. But when your people only see you as a boss, they perceive you as someone who sorely hands out duties and makes sure all gets done without identifying with them. A boss primarily cares for results. A true leader cares more than outputs but also about the overall growth of their followers.
No matter how much potential your business has, lack of leadership can substantially bring your company down. So if you or your company’s culture utterly boss people around, then you are ultimately guiding your good employees to leave. Poor leadership kills potential; it makes employees unmotivated and unproductive. Good leadership, in contrast, nourishes talents, encourages confidence, proactivity and productivity. You can also invest in leadership development programs to help your business soar high.
What qualities make a real leader, and can you be one? While several attributes make a true leader, you can be one if you genuinely want to learn the way. You need to be determined, focus, and be willing to learn, even if it may require you to make sacrifices along the way. Read on to start your journey of how to be a true leader, not just a boss.
Active Listening and Communication Skills
Surprisingly, many people believe they are good listeners, but the truth is that many are better talkers than listeners. As straightforward as it seems, active listening takes practice and patience. We are naturally inclined to ready a reply so soon without actively listening to the one speaking.
To be a leader requires you to have excellent communication skills, especially active listening. Being a good listener not only makes a person feel valued but also reduces the chances of miscommunication. Active listening allows you to truly process what is being said, how it is being delivered, and what possibly is the true intent” of the speaker.
To be a good listener, you should refrain from unnecessarily interrupting the speaker and just letting them finish. Do not be quick to reply without fully digesting what’s been said. Keep eye contact and open posture while listening to let the person know that you are attentive to them.
Active listening and practicing good communication skills help a leader to eliminate the chances of misinterpretations. It also makes your team feel valued and truly heard. It’ll boost their morale which in turn leads to better engagement, trust, and productivity.
Coaching and Inspiring Your Team for Success
Harnessing the talents of your people to achieve business goals is a central element of leadership. Instead of micromanaging and telling people what to do, lead by being a coach. The stereotypical boss will likely think of ‘saving his time and effort’ by telling his employees how things should be done. A leader, on the other hand, opens learning opportunities to help his employees proceed without his input and generate plausible solutions.
Delegating, for instance, is an art that can tremendously benefit both you, the leader and the team member. It tells your employees that you trust and believe in them and will support and help them. Delegating tasks and authority helps your people learn, be accountable, engaged, and do meaningful work. Instead of your team waiting for your every instruction, mentoring them is a win-win for everyone especially in the long run.
Furthermore, a leader inspires their people to the point that they enthusiastically do the job and give it their best. When you lead by inspiring your followers, it works both ways. And it keeps work and your environment in a healthy balance. Inspiring your employees generates a positive desire for them to work hard and give their best performance.
However, see to it that you are not doing things in a manipulative way, as employees will see through your intentions—eventually. Demonstrate and make it a personal desire to show genuine care and empathy. A good leader knows how to connect and understand the feelings and points of view of their followers.
Being an Example of Punctuality and Self-discipline
A true leader is someone who has earned the trust and respect of his followers. To be one, you should be a great model and inspire them to be better. Leading by example is just way too powerful more than words. When you show up and do what you are supposed to do without compromising your integrity, it radiates a positive impact.
Punctuality and self-discipline are essential traits required to be successful in the workplace. When you, as a leader, demonstrate good time and attendance management skills, it helps establish high team morale and instill discipline. When they see you adhering to rules, it moves them to action.
Being punctual is crucial for your business’s operational success. If employees are not regularly coming to work nor completing their working hours, it could lead to the operations’ collapse. Punctuality should be emphasized in the workplace. And one way to show them it’s important is to let them see how serious you are by being punctual yourself.
Discipline ensures everyone behaves appropriately and abides by the set rules and regulations of your company. Again, lead by example by following these rules. Let your people know that no one is exempted and that maintaining the decorum of your workplace is truly necessary.
Setting Clear Employee Goals and Expectations
A typical boss is someone who is also known to pass the blame whenever things went wrong. And it is one surefire way to lose your employees’ trust. For one thing, many mistakes are preventable if clear expectations have been set.
Thus, it is crucial to establish clear employee goals and expectations and determine who is accountable for what. Employees want to succeed, and it is your task to lead them by determining what work they should be doing, and what are the goals and expectations required from them. Providing clear and competent job instructions to accomplish a task and allowing them to be accountable for their work will eliminate unnecessary pressure.
So, to lessen guesswork and confusion that leads to mishaps, provide a clear map to each member of your team. Determine what is expected from them, give clear instructions, communicate what’s important and ensure that you get their commitment.
Creating an Effective Two-way Feedback
A leader strives for quality, regular communication for everyone to be highly effective at work. It includes discussing and resolving mistakes immediately. And this is a proactive approach where both you and your employee acknowledge the mistake, then pinpoint what went wrong, and what should be done to prevent it from happening again.
Two-way feedback is highly effective because it lets you be on the same page. This means the employee knows what you think and what is expected from them, and you know what they expect from you as well. Sometimes your employees need your help too, not just your instructions. Encouraging two-way feedback allows you to know what is needed on your part to help improve their performance as well.
Establishing channels to encourage feedback from your employees boosts engagement. Not only that, but you also get to learn what more is needed or if they need a helping hand to accomplish their tasks. Once feedback is received, you should determine how to appropriately act on it.
Being Open to New Ideas
A leader helps their people grow, and another way to do this is to be open to new ideas. Invite your team to be part of the solution by asking for their ideas. This will encourage creativity and make them feel valued.
Asking your employees to be part of the solution also opens a floodgate of ideas that can tremendously help your business. With differing opinions being offered, you can get to choose the best approach to do certain things. But don’t forget to reward your employees who offer solutions and contributions to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Leaders who create a culture of openness encourage their team to be innovative, problem-solver and highly engaged. It gives them a sense of direction and fulfillment. Seeing their ideas being considered gives them confidence. Instead of seeing you as their boss, they will see you as a leader who genuinely cares for their growth.
A leader is made, and good leadership skills take time and effort to develop. However, with hard work, dedication, and strategic planning, you can be a true leader who moves people to success.