The difference between a boss and a leader comes down to how you present yourself to your employees and teammates. Bosses rely on their position of authority to gain compliance, whereas good leaders use their influence to motivate the team.
Good leadership empowers individuals to look up to you and meet their full potential, as opposed to forcing compliance with fear and punishment.
1. Seek to inspire others.
When you inspire others, you seek to bring out the best in others. Tyrannical management operates from a fear mindset, where team members fear harsh discipline for small mistakes.
This may seem like the best type of leader at first glance, but it only leads to a high turnover rate and tension amongst employees.
When you inspire others, you are empowering them to take initiative and achieve more. When everyone is working towards a goal and achieving the success they want to achieve, it reflects solid leadership because you are having a positive effect on their mindset.
Some ways to inspire others are to be passionate about the mission of the company and to practice what you preach. This also means being honest and trustworthy, because your employees must believe in you to be able to inspire them. Who you are as a person translates to your leadership style, so it’s important to lead and make decisions from a solid moral compass.
2. Show high emotional intelligence.
Good leaders understand their own emotions and the emotions of their teammates. How you interact with and support your team reflects your emotional intelligence skills.
This is why good leaders aim to inspire, guide, and advise their team, as opposed to barking orders and commanding or demanding.
They know how their team members are feeling and are considerate. For example, good leaders understand that everyone will have off days and that everyone has different learning styles. Some are visual learners, and some are hands-on learners. These factors must all be taken into consideration when guiding your team as an effective leader.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence know how to respond to situations, as opposed to simply reacting. Reacting out of anger, panic, or frustration can blur your clarity and cause you to make poor decisions. Good leaders know you can’t control everything, just like you can’t force people to look up to you; respect is earned.
Some people I’ve worked with in the past use the 24-hour rule, which means they won’t respond to or make a major decision until they’ve had time to hold space for and process the decision for some time. This is not always possible in every situation, but it’s important to slow down and carefully think before making a decision. You must make decisions based on clarity and not panic or pressure.
Greeting your employees, engaging in conversation, and making others feel valued demonstrates high emotional intelligence and fosters a sense of belonging where communication can take place without fear of judgement.
“Leadership is an action, not a position.” Donald McGannon
3. Demonstrate hard work.
Hard work demonstrates dedication, which motivates others to do the same. Leaders demonstrate hard work by being punctual, meeting deadlines, and completing projects from beginning to end.
From a leadership perspective, hard work doesn’t mean only doing what you have to do and disregarding everyone else. Effective leaders demonstrate hard work by helping other team members with their needs and showing initiative on all projects.
When team members observe that you’re helpful, follow through, and show intuitiveness, it motivates them to complete their work because they seek to be effective.
A willingness to work hard shows that you, as a leader, are not above any of the workplace tasks but rather that you care enough to help teammates by reducing the workload through your work.
Good leaders work hard because it inspires your workers, as opposed to giving directives on the sidelines and having everyone do the work you don’t want to do.
4. Listen to your employees.
Good communication is essential for a healthy workplace, as well as fostering employee innovation and improving morale.
Contemporary society believes that a leader not knowing every answer is a sign of weakness, but this is not the case…. No one knows everything. And that’s completely acceptable.
A good leader puts their ego aside and develops a solid rapport with their staff, so each and every one of their opinions is valued and used to build the company as a whole. This is why it’s essential to work as part of a team (even as a leader), because you never know who can solve an unexpected problem or offer advice from past experiences.
Good leaders are patient and view situations from an empathetic viewpoint because everyone has their own unique experiences.
Although it is required to follow a boss, people do so because they want to and because they feel their leadership is guiding them.
People look up to good leaders because they don’t look down on their employees; rather, they lift them up. This is key to developing solid rapport and being a relatable person as an individual.
5. Good leaders don’t micromanage.
Most importantly, good leaders allow free thinking and autonomy over their own work and creativity. They don’t micromanage because they know it inhibits personal growth and creativity in their workers.
Micromanagement is about complete control, stemming from insecurity. Micromanagement starves employees of their creative talents, leading to frustration, resentment, and a high turnover rate.
This means they are not micromanaging or controlling every little detail regarding their employees work and how they get the job done. Just like there are different learning styles, there are many ways to get a job done, and people have the right to do what is best for them. What works for you might not work for someone else. You might even learn a better way to do things if you keep an open mind.
Micromanagement is dangerous because it creates dependent employees who will be unable to make decisions on their own out of fear of scrutiny.
Good leaders, however, instead build a team with people you trust and allow staff to use their strengths. When you trust your employees, you’re helping to cultivate their creative talents and capabilities.
You never know how far your team can take you. Trust and compassion are a must for enhancing team productivity.