“Be your own boss.” “The big bossman.” “Doing it like a boss.” Wherever you look in society, there are references to being in charge and taking control of your life and career. Therefore, you are forgiven if you assume the role of a boss is the pinnacle of the corporate world. After all, you’re in a position to change lives and the business with your decisions, not to mention the fact that you can have a balance between life and work.


Unfortunately, while the role of a boss is a top position, it’s also a poisoned chalice. You don’t want to be just a boss, you want to be a leader. Leaders are the people who innovate and create as they encourage others to recognize their vision and take the necessary steps to put it into practice. Sadly, bosses often fail because they can’t convince their workers to invest in their vision.


It’s vital to watch out for the signs; however, you might not know what they are if you never realized the difference between the parts. That’s not a problem as it’s never too late to change your course. With that in mind, here are six signs you’re a boss, not a leader, and how to take a different path.


Bosses Are Elitist – Leaders Evaluate Everything


A good idea is a good idea, regardless of the source. And, this isn’t even a reference to your staff and team members. Most bosses are very astute at spotting plans and strategies and using them to their advantage, giving employees a pat on the back in the process. Still, it’s possible to be elitist on so many other levels, including technology.


Bosses only want to implement the latest releases as they believe they are the only devices that can help the business move forward. In reality, the top work schedule maker tools aren’t always sexy and exotic. Often, it’s a piece of basic equipment, such as a pen and piece of paper, that makes the difference by encouraging you to write down a list of to-dos.


Leaders know this better than anybody since they understand the most technical of programs can turn sour. For example, if there is an outage, you’ll require a pen and piece of paper to collate your schedule. Sure, just because the method has been around for ages doesn’t mean it’s foolproof – it isn’t – yet it’s the last resort.


A backup, no matter how humble, is a must as it’s better than forgetting essential information and missing out on potential leads and sales.


Bosses Explain – Leaders Inspire


The difference between explanation and inspiration is small. It’s almost impossible to notice, yet some workers do, which is why you should learn the distinction. Plus, your job as a boss and leader is to motivate employees, and you won’t do it if all you do is explain the role and leave them to their devices.


The key is to let them know how essential the task is, as this should give them a sense of importance. Not only will it motivate them to give their best, but it will also make them feel proud and more valued when the job is complete. After all, bosses don’t hand out important projects to the first person they see.


Of course, the added inspiration brings extra pressure, too, because the weight of expectations can weigh heavy on a person’s mind. This is where leaders stand out from the pack. Rather than checking in at the end to see if they coped, a leader is available throughout the process to offer advice and feedback.


As a result, workers are always supported and never feel isolated in the workplace.


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Bosses Yell – Leaders Encourage


Speaking of feedback, it’s hard to be a boss without losing your cool from time to time. It’s worth noting leaders do this as there is a lot on the line, especially when it’s your company. However, for a leader, shouting is done differently because there is a method to the madness. On the other hand, bosses get caught up in the emotion.


For instance, if you scream and yell at somebody who has made a mistake in front of the entire office, you’re a boss. The same applies to the process of offering public praise. Why? It’s because you operate on a reward/punishment system to discourage poor behavior. Workers aren’t dogs you can manipulate with treats. They are human beings and need treating as such.


Leaders do this by conducting feedback, whether positive or negative, in private. By doing this, employees understand that critiques are constructive and meant to help them in the future. There’s a mentoring element to the relationship, which is essential if workers are going to grow and transform into high-quality team members you can trust.


Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight, and you must invest time, money, and energy into people, and not discard them as soon as they cease to be “worthless.” 


Bosses Micromanage – Leaders Delegate


Covid-19 is highlighting the pitfalls of micromanagers worldwide. Previously, watching and analyzing everything employees did was a piece of cake as they were in a single space connected to a server. Now, almost twice as many people work remotely than they did pre-Covid. For bosses, this is a problem as they don’t have control.


Leaders don’t care because they delegated tasks, and will continue to do so for the long-term. And, that’s where the bosses struggle – they can’t rely on people. Not only do leaders lean on their team, but they do it with a vision in mind. For instance, leaders are obsessed with workers doing what is right, as well as completing tasks correctly.


This means staff under the mentorship of a quality leader are full of authority and independence. Teams under the watchful eye of a boss are stifled, which is why there is discontent in the ranks. Remember – it only takes a few people to feel unhappy and hard done to for the rumors to spread. Once they do, it’s difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.


While it’s challenging to click your fingers and work a different way than what you’re used to, it’s vital to avoid micromanagement preferences. People who are managed constantly are not as motivated, passionate, or productive since the inspiration is removed from the equation.


Bosses Want To Look Good – Leaders Prefer To Credit Others


Bosses love attention. When you look at the way captains of industry are revered, it’s not hard to see why. The likes of Steve Jobs had an army of engineers and writers of code, yet he’s put on a pedestal as the “genius marketer.” If Jobs can do it, why can’t bosses who manage the day to day business operations?


You can, yet it’s a terrible idea. Seeking attention and taking center stage in the limelight is a surefire way to piss off your employers. They worked just as hard as you did and got zero credit. They should be pissed! Alternatively, leaders are happy to give credit to their team, and they do it for several reasons.


Firstly, they understand the company comes first, and positioning themselves as the main person in charge is counterproductive. Without the tens of people in the office, they’d be nowhere. Secondly, they know how peoples’ minds work, so they are quick to deflect attention. Thirdly, they want to maintain the same level of output and productivity, and won’t do anything to jeopardize success.


Language such as “I” or “me” is enough to register with workers and turn them off completely. Switching them back on again is tough, so it’s better to ensure they remain on the same settings. To do this, you can replace “I” and “me” for “we” and “us.”


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Bosses Are Out Of Reach – Leaders Are In The Trenches


Bosses and leaders share similarities, one being that they must take on different tasks to the rest of the workplace. After all, answering emails might appear easy, but it’s essential to the long-term running and success of the firm. Therefore, you could assume they both operate on a separate level to ordinary employees, but you’d be wrong.


Bosses do, and they’re always out of reach as a result. Leaders might be busy with management stuff, but they are still in the trenches. This means they are happy to listen to problems, whether business-related or personal and will find a suitable solution. They might delegate the issue to a manager; however, they’ll address it first to give the impression they are part of the team.


It’s cliche, yet a leader’s door is never closed. A bosses door is, which is why they are out of reach, and usually out of touch with the office and everybody in it. Something as simple as speaking to your workers about their private lives can change peoples’ perceptions. As you can guess, leaders understand the potential of leveraging soft power.


If you’re a boss, you can make a difference by utilizing the ultimate leader play – looking inwards to be a better manager.

P.S. This post is a partner collaboration.