Leader or a Boss?

Employee Working | HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

When you look at the people in your organisation in managerial / supervisory roles do you think they are a boss or leader? All small – medium businesses can benefit by adopting strong leadership principles and knowing the difference between boss vs leader will help your organisation stand out from competitors.

I’ve heard it said that a boss is a subject matter expert and a leader is a people expert. Not long ago I wrote this blog post about what happens when your boss is highly competent technically, but terrible at leading the team. But I think it’s more than that, firstly because I’ve seen some terrible people placed into supervisory roles who are neither subject matter experts or people experts ๐Ÿ˜€, but, because with the right mentoring and training most employees can develop leadership skills.

In the picture above I’ve written “Being a leader doesn’t require a title, having a title doesn’t make you a leader”

When it comes to effectively managing your organisation there are 2 factors to consider – boss v’s leader and management styles.

Boss v’s Leader

You see, a bossโ€™ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

boss-vs-leader-infographic.jpg

Management Styles

Management styles are born out of an individuals beliefs, values, assumptions, abilities and experience. Beyond decision making, successful management becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful managers have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.

A strong manager may switch between different styles based on the desired outcome, and the method that works best for the relevant employee or team. Commonly management styles can fit into 5 types;

Autocratic

A manager who utilises the autocratic approach makes decision with little input from others, this style is a very top down approach where employees wait for an order or directives from the leader and then carry them out.

This style of management often results in passive resistance and discontent from employees as they begin to feel marginalised or under-appreciated, making this approach to management undesirable. However, in situations requiring urgent action where the approach is unlikely to affect productivity or motivation it can provide the ability to get the task done quickly and efficiently.

Laissez-faire

A laissez-faire approach is when the manager exerts little control over the group, and leaves the team to self manage their work. This style of management is a hands off approach and the manager is rarely involved in the work process.

This approach is only appropriate when the team is highly motivated, skilled and can confidently complete the work on their own. When this is the case team members can often complete goals faster and more effectively without interference and can have a stronger sense of personal accomplishment in doing so. When this is not the case, well, it’s recipe for an unmotivated and lazy workforce with negative implications for the business.

Democratic

A democratic manager makes decisions with consultation coming from within their team, while still maintaining control and remaining a central figure in the group.

A good democratic manager will encourage participation and empower their employees, but will never lose sight of the end goal. They understand that at the end of the day the buck stops with them so the right decision needs to be made, and this doesn’t always align with the majority.

A weak manager will lose direction and will be crippled by too many opinions to be able to make a firm call.

Transactional

Transactional management believes employees support their manager as a result of the managers ability to reward them. This management style assumes the primary motivator is the promise of reward, or, an aversion to punishment.

There are pro’s & con’s associated with this style, it can work well where the primary objective is to have employees complete allocated tasks regardless of the obstacles or the restrictions they may face (ie: time constraints or lack of resources) where management give clear & concise instructions and clearly state what the potential rewards are.

Transformational

A Transformational manager derives their power from their inspiring and charismatic qualities, evoking emotional connections with employees by building a vision and arousing passion. Transformational managers lead by injecting enthusiasm and energy and encourage engagement amongst the team.

You’ve probably just read the definition of a transformational manager and thought of current or ex-colleagues that fits the description, but wasn’t in a supervisory role right?

They would have exhibited leadership traits such as showing empathy & compassion for others; earning the respect of their colleagues; were flexible in their approach; they listened when people spoke; they were modest about their abilities; they adapted their approach to suit the cultural or societal requirements of the people they interacted with, and, they were a great communicator.

People would willingly go the extra mile for them because they liked the way they made them feel; they felt important, they felt the work was important, and they wanted in on the action.

Being leader isn’t confined to having a job title to match, just as having the job title doesn’t automatically make you a leader.

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