Are you a natural leader, one your team happily follow to success, or is your position maintained by constant reminders that you’re in charge?
A bossy boss – one who demands they are treated with authority – is never in a position of strength.
The sole focus of a bossy boss is ‘I’ – the importance of their own position and reputation – and that relies on everyone knowing “I am in charge!” and on the blame for any failings falling on someone – anyone – else.
Successful leaders, however, don’t being and end with ‘I’ – they focus their efforts instead on the ‘we’ – on the business, on the growth of the brand, and on the people who make up the team.
A great leader embodies the ethos of the brand, and cares about the growth and success of their workforce as part and parcel of their own growth and development.
For those who are new to leadership it can be daunting – and it can be easy to fall into the trap of nagging, micromanaging, overpowering and getting power hungry – but that doesn’t make for a great leader, and it doesn’t make for a happy team or a successful business.
How can you avoid those pitfalls, and how can you be a great leader without being a bossy boss?
We not I
Where a boss might be full of ‘I’ and self-importance, a leader is more interested in the success of the whole – in the positive steps the team take to develop, grow and succeed.
If you want to be a leader that inspires greatness and leaves a legacy of positive change and permanent growth, you have to understand your position – and the knowledge that even the highest tower relies on the strength of the foundations.
Your workforce is your foundation – and you have to invest in their growth, security and stability in order to rise – with them, as one of the team – as part of a ‘we’.
Lead don’t drive
There is an enormous difference between a person who issues commands and drives ruthlessly from over your shoulders to someone who stands before you and brings you on a journey, leading from the head.
A great leader must be seen to stride out at the head of a team, must encourage their workforce to work as a cohesive whole and lead by example – bringing everyone forward together, rather than bullying and pushing from a position of safety, where the risks being taken belong only to others.
Teach your workforce to strive for more, for better, and lead the way, pushing your own boundaries and expanding your own knowledge alongside theirs.
Feedback not criticism
Sometimes, no matter how experienced a team, mistakes are made. People can be flawed, opportunities can be missed, balls can be dropped. It can be very frustrating – but berating someone, humiliating them, and criticising them can be terribly damaging – for the individual, and for the business.
As a leader, your role is to get to the bottom of why these mistakes were made – to discuss, without blaming, who was responsible for which part of the mistake – and to put plans into place to avoid those mistakes being made again, and do what can be done to repair any damage.
We all get emotional about our work – particularly when things seem to be going wrong – and we should work on that with an understanding that everyone else involved has feelings that need to be managed too. The human side of leadership is vital in handling those difficult conversations – but remember not to go too far the other way either, and avoid difficult topics for fear of hurting people.
Business involves people – at every stage – and it’s important to be able to have difficult conversations without being difficult.
Listen don’t talk
Of course your job is to tell people what to do – you can’t lead if you aren’t actually leading – but as important as your plans and instructions are for the future of the business, it’s vitally important to hear your people.
There are ideas, inspiration, intelligence and new directions happening in every mind, at every level of the business – from the most experienced CEO to the most junior part-time admin assistant, from the sales director to the shop-front volunteer.
Giving everyone opportunities to voice their opinion and ideas – and actually hearing those ideas, and any feedback they have on your own – is what helps your team to feel connected, cohesive and whole – and to trust your leadership, and that benefits your position and the organisation as a whole.
Reward don’t punish
There are two approaches to getting more from people – there is the fear of punishment, fear of losing a position or income, and the pressure of ‘do more, do bigger, do better or else’ – which can work, for a fleeting time, before people burn out.
Alternatively – and we would strongly recommend this approach – reward your team. This can be as simple as offering incentives and commission, with those who achieve more being rewarded with higher incomes or prizes – but this can also be simpler things such as acknowledging and celebrating the success of individuals in the office. Praise and gratitude can go a long way to bolstering someone’s confidence and their ongoing increased success.
Praise and reward show that you are invested in their success, grateful for the benefits they bring to the business, and involved in their development and growth – and the knowledge that what they are doing is appreciated and rewarded is a great way to encourage your team to develop their skills in your business, and to benefit your brand even further, as well as creating a bond and relationship that will encourage them to stay and develop within your organisation as their career progresses, rather than looking elsewhere.
Show don’t tell
Most importantly, don’t be a hypocrite; don’t tell your workforce what to do and constantly ask for proof that they are working – instead, lead by example, from the head of a cohesive team who all have the same goals in mind.
Show your workforce how to run a business, how to aim high and reach your targets, and how to plan ahead for the developing industry that you’re in – and take them on that journey with you, winning and failing together, so that you can all celebrate the successes and understand the losses in a way that means you’re always moving forward.
ASK Europe have decades of experience in leadership development and performance management and we are dedicated to helping your business leaders to reach their full potential – meaning that your entire organisation benefits. Call our consultants today on 01234 757575 to discuss how we can work with you.