If you’ve held a job, you have probably noticed that there are bosses, and there are leaders.
Bosses are like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. They are capable of delegating tasks, and they can meet their supervisors’ expectations, but they often fail to inspire their subordinates. Employees don’t want to work for bosses – they listen because they must.
When a true leader is in charge, their influence is far-reaching. Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs are examples of leaders who have created a lasting impact through their work.
Tension Between Managing and Leading
Whether you are stepping into a supervisory position, or you are interested in improving your leadership skills, it is essential to understand the difference between bosses and leaders. When a managerial title is conferred, all the expectations about the relationship between managers and employees are also transferred to the supervisor. Companies would not be able to function if this ideology about the chain of command didn’t exist. This structure combined with pressure to execute company imperatives creates titular managers who may or may not hold the respect of the people whom they supervise. Insecure title-holders appear unresponsive to employee needs, resort to micromanagement, and leave a wave of discontent in their wake.
Effective leadership is critical for employee satisfaction. When employees have a solid rapport with their supervisors, they are happier and more productive. They view their work as a collaboration between themselves and their superiors, and they become more dedicated to producing positive outcomes for the company. Workers who spend less time being miserable can spend more time contributing to the organization.
The Cost of Ineffective Leaders: Quitting of Talented Employees
According to a 2015 Gallup study, 50% of survey participants left their jobs because they didn’t have a good relationship with their managers. Embodying the qualities of a strong leader is essential for increasing employee retention. High employee turnover rates are costly for companies, and they can have a negative impact on workplace culture.
John Maxwell 3 identifies five levels of leadership: Position, Permission, Production, People Development, and Pinnacle. Position, the first level, is granted with a management title. The next stage, Permission, is marked when employees willingly follow their manager because they respect them. Maxwell notes that most managers can attain the first two levels of his model.
At the Production stage, managers become leaders. They produce measurable results, and people follow them because of their track record. At the People Development level, leaders support the next generation of supervisors by investing in their employees. At this stage, leaders realize that a company is only as great as its human assets. To reach the Pinnacle phase, leaders spend years cultivating success to create a lasting legacy within their organization.
Leading Isn’t a Position, It’s a Journey
Becoming a true leader is a years-long, and in some cases, a lifelong pursuit. Set your sights on reaching the Pinnacle stage, but know that you don’t have to be a leadership expert on day one. Experience, effort, humility, and eagerness to improve will contribute to your development as a leader.
Plan and execute like a leader.
To take your leadership skills to the next level, you’ll need to study what makes a good leader. The Leadership Performance Wheel models ways in which managers can transition from being title-holders to influencers.
According to this framework, an effective supervisor must be able to consider the company’s values, his or her personal vision, the organization’s vision, employee engagement, team development, and organizational effectiveness while serving in a leadership capacity.
Develop not only your own skills, but also others’.
Don’t be afraid to seek out the mentorship of superiors that you respect. Remember that People Development is the fourth stage of Maxwell’s model. Leaders that you look up to should be actively working toward the goal of reproducing their leadership success by developing the skills of others.
Be an active listener.
Pay attention to what employees say, and note the subtext of their communication. People feel more valued when they know that you are willing to listen. By truly hearing workers, you will gain important insights into what you’ll need to do to inspire confidence and build rapport with employees.
Give constructive feedback and receive feedback too.
Employees like to know how they are doing. When workers receive constructive feedback, it can improve their overall job satisfaction and the quality of their outputs.
Good leaders know that leadership involves getting as well as giving feedback. Provide opportunities for employees to evaluate your performance. One-on-one discussions, team meetings, and anonymous surveys can offer avenues for employees to communicate their thoughts to you. Provide multiple means for receiving feedback, since you’ll likely learn different types of information from each one.
State the “why” all the times.
Simon Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Stay grounded in your vision and explain your why to others. Helping employees understand your vision is essential for becoming a leader rather than just a supervisor.
To Lead is to Serve
Effective leaders do not come to their positions ready-made. They commit the process of developing their skills through consistent effort and praxis. Genuine leaders know that they are at the service of the companies for which they work as well as the people whom they supervise. They are willing to set aside their egos for the sake of improvement, and they believe that they can enact positive change.
True leaders operate from a position of authority, but instead of towering over their employees, they connect and collaborate with them.
By: Angelina Phebus