by Lucy Dunn, 17 April 2014

lucy-dunnAccording to a leading strategic management consultant in the US, Lee Colan, though the distinction between being a boss and being a leader may seem small, it does mean the world of difference to the people who work for you. Many management experts urge bosses to act more like leaders.

  1. A boss knows it all; a leader is always learning
  2. A boss gives answers; a leader seeks solutions
  3. A boss talks more than listens; a leader listens more than talks 
  4. A boss directs; a leader coaches
  5. A boss criticizes; a leader encourages
  6. A boss identifies weaknesses; a leader identifies natural gifts
  7. A boss is all about "me"; a leader is all about "we"
  8. A boss places blame; a leader takes accountability
  9. A boss protects her ego; a leader reveals her vulnerability
  10. A boss demands results; a leader inspires performance  

Being the boss does not necessarily put you in the leader category. The key is to become more of a leader as you move up within the organization structure. If you have too many leaders, at too high a level in a company, the company will most likely end up with high staff turnover rate and those senior executives that are leaders will become frustrated that the company cannot implement the business strategies as you have too many opinions. It could be rather confusing to both the internal and external stakeholders.

If you are one of the executives who can make or break the company’s reputation/profits/positioning, your leadership style is certainly critical. If you are managing a small team of, say, operations staff in the mail room, and then it may be wise to be just be a boss and get all the little things done. You may find that you have to be flexible with your management style depending on those whom you manage. Some people feel uncomfortable unless they are being told exactly what to do and how do to it. There are others who will flourish and bring enormous contributions if given encouragement and freedom. 

Here’s a three-minute exercise that may leave you refreshed and with a new insights. 

Who was the manager where you felt you were most effective? What worked especially well for you? What can you learn from this?  

Now, who was the manager under which you felt least effective? What didn’t work for you and why? What can you learn from this?  

Any thoughts you would like to share? I am especially interested in contrarian views!


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