Leaders don’t just tell people what to do; they lead by example. Leaders inspire those around them to try harder. Leaders are passionate about what they do and the people they serve. Leaders recognize their own skills and abilities, as well as the skills and abilities of those around them. They also recognize their own weaknesses. Leaders don’t hide their weaknesses, but instead actively look to work with others whose skills and abilities fill their own gaps. Leaders are strong yet humble. They recognize and value their peers, their employees, their friends and their family. They are honest and they look for opportunities for others to shine and grow.
What a long list and perhaps a little intimidating. I had the opportunity to read “Real Leaders Don’t Boss” by Ritch K. Eich. This book provides a comprehensive description of leader attributes and real life examples of the difference between a boss and a leader. The reality is there are a lot of bosses out there, but not nearly as many leaders. As Ritch points out in his book, leadership is not limited to corner suite executives. No matter what role a person has in life, we all have the opportunity to lead and inspire others.
Bosses, on the other hand, care more about themselves and their success than the success of those around them. Many believe they are “too important” to do the work of the “little” people. They expect those around them to provide excellent service to customers but don’t provide that same level of service to those they are supposed to lead. Favouritism, inconsistency and lack of trust and respect de-motivate those around them.
As I read the book, I distinctly remembered some bosses and leaders that I have had the opportunity to meet. Early in my marketing career, my boss asked me to create a strategic marketing plan for the department I was working in. I felt honored and excited about the opportunity and poured my heart and soul into doing the best job I could. Can you imagine the betrayal and anger I felt when my boss then took my hard work and submitted it to her boss with her name on it?
Contrast that to my grade ten physics teacher. Mr. Lysager expected each of his students to show up for class ready to learn. There was no fooling around in his class and everyone knew it. But that didn’t mean the class was boring. Mr. Lysager loved what he did. He had a passion for teaching. Mr. Lysager challenged those who grasped the concepts easily and provided the additional time for those who didn’t. Mr. Lysager respected each student and inspired his students to be the best they could be.
All of us have the opportunity to lead in some capacity. As a parent, a spouse, a friend, a peer, a supervisor or a corner suite executive, recognize the value that others bring to your life or your business, demonstrate integrity in all you do, and help those you serve find their true potential. Then stand aside and let them shine.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a complimentary copy of the book “Real Leaders Don’t Boss”. As I read through the book, I pulled out my highlighter and “stickies” so I could quickly return to areas that stood out for me. This book will continue to be a resource for me and is a recommended read to anyone looking to lead others.)