“You’re not the boss of me!” “I don’t have to listen to you.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Does anybody besides me remember shouting one of those phrases at your parents when you were growing up? Or perhaps you used them on the schoolyard when someone was trying to make you feel bad about yourself or trying to convince you to do something you really didn’t want to do.
Wouldn’t it be nice if those phrases, and the feelings behind them, feelings of frustration, of not being valued or understood, were limited to those tumultuous find yourself, find your independence formative years and that once we moved into adulthood, they no longer applied?
Do you remember having a boss that made you feel bad about yourself? That made you feel bad about the place you worked at? While people in the grown up world of work may not literally scream “You’re not the boss of me”, many people are screaming that in their minds.
There are hundreds of bosses that get up every day, get in their car, go to work and make the people around them feel inadequate. They don’t value the opinions of the people they expect to help them be successful. They demand compliance and respect. Bosses assume that because they are “the boss”, they are automatically a leader.
Real leaders know that is not true. People who choose to lead instead of to boss have learned some fundamental truths and they incorporate those truths into their lives every day. Three of those truths are:
1. Unlike bosses who focus on themselves, leaders focus on their team and the individuals within their team. They take the time to get to know their team’s strengths and weaknesses. They create opportunities for individuals to shine by focusing on their strengths and then providing the tools and the resources for weaknesses to be overcome. Leaders want the spotlight to be on their team and the individuals on their team, not on themselves.
2. Bosses demand trust and respect. Leaders understand that trust and respect are earned. They also understand that when working with people who are used to being “bossed”, it may take longer for the walls to come down and trust established. Leaders are patient, they practice what they preach; they don’t feel their “authority” excludes them from behaviours and actions they expect from their team members. They earn trust and respect by treating their team members to trust and respect.
3. Leaders know that leadership has absolutely nothing to do with a title. They know that it has nothing to do with a corner office or a title on a business card. Leadership is an attitude. It is a commitment to looking for opportunities to create change and looking for opportunities to help others shine.
It is much harder to be a leader than to be a boss, but the rewards are worth the effort, not only for the people on the team, but also for the leader. After all, just like the people they lead, leaders also appreciate being valued, respected and trusted.