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Shireen Qudosi

Don’t Be a Boss. Be a Leader

Feb 06 2013, 06:01 AM by

We may not have gotten our much anticipated personal jet packs when we turned the corner into the 21st century. Sure, we’re in a tech boom and pretty much everyone realizes it, but are people realizing we’re in a business culture boom too? If you compare tech to business, especially in the last century, you could say tech was already solidly advancing; whereas business culture remained more or less the same with overall slight shifts. How we worked changed. How we thought about work, didn’t. All that is changing now.

When we look back, one of the biggest markers of human evolution in the 21st century will be in how we think, and we’ll see it the most in how we work. For entrepreneurs, this means shedding the boss mentality and adopting a leadership mentality. There's a difference.

Robert Short thinks so. An entrepreneur with a personal fitness business, Short believes “A leader sets an example to be followed...a boss merely dictates orders.” He adds, “Most bosses I have dealt with simply took tests, followed their bosses without question, loved those that did the same, and thought that’s all it took to be a good boss. When I was a candidate for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept, I found that many ‘bosses’ had no clue about tactics....they just tested well and had higher educations, which afforded them faster promotions to positions of power. The real leaders in the department were the men and women who had real, practical hands-on experience dealing with life and death tactical situations. When the leader made tactical decisions, the team knew they were in good hands because a) the leader knew what he-she was doing and b) was involved in the crisis with his/her officers. Bosses just boss...leaders lead by example.”
Know What You’re Doing & Lead by Example
Robert brings up two very good points. First, being a leader means being ahead of the curve. It means educating yourself on a daily basis on your industry, on trends and on what tools/tech your employees could use to do their job better. The other point is to lead by example. Nothing brews hatred more than seeing your boss take it easy while you’re slugging it out – or worse, while he expects you to slug it out. Of course, as a successful entrepreneur you’ve likely paid your dues. You’ve probably worked a full time job and sacrificed evenings to build your company, worked late, worked without pay and more. Even employees that are smart enough to understand this don’t really care; they care about what they see. If they see you strolling in at noon talking about how you caught a wicked wave that morning; if they see you wasting time over people’s shoulders or just “hanging out” – then chances are you’re accidentally making everyone hate you.
Stop Bothering Your Employees
This brings us to another point that I’ll get right into. Stop hovering over people. Be smart enough to attract the best employees and then let them do their work. This is particularly important in creative fields where all you need to do is give them a deadline. You don’t need to micro-manage every step of the process.
Build a Company Culture Worth Slaving For
If you want the best employees, you’re going to have to entice them. Good pay and great benefits are terrific, but a poor company culture sooner or later will always overshadow pay/benefits. A dime a dozen companies offer competitive pay and wages – but how many of those places have employees that enjoy being there? Not many. If you can’t offer up even a fraction of the work culture and benefits Google or Facebook offer, then at the very least offer a flexible work schedule. Most entrepreneurs I know expect slavish devotion from your employees, primarily because it mirrors their own work ethic. You have to remember though that it’s your company, not theirs – so create a company culture and work environment worth slaving for.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Tips & Resources, Tips & Resources, Growing Your Business, Growing Your Business, Growing Your Business

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