Gut Check: Are you a Leader or Just a Boss?

Simon Sinek, motivational speaker, consultant and author of the bestseller, Start with Why, is quoted as saying, “A boss has the title. A leader has the people.”

Although management styles vary and different situations most definitely call for different leadership styles, it is possibly a universal truth that being a leader is more effective than simply being a boss. Practicing a few key leadership tips can help you create a stronger, more productive workforce in addition to allowing you to achieve goals and solidify a positive culture.

Before we dive into leadership tips to help you succeed, take a quick quiz to answer this question. Are you a leader or a boss? These five questions will get you thinking about your management style:

  1. Do you stand over members of your team making sure they’re working on the project you requested?
  2. Do you notice that your employees seem intimidated by you? Do you strive to make them feel intimidated?
  3. Do you discourage suggestions, feedback or new ideas from your team?
  4. Does your team feel like they must do what you say, no matter what?
  5. Do you set unclear or impossible goals for your team?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, it’s highly likely that you are a boss, not a leader. Whether intentional or by accident, you’ve created an atmosphere in which your direct reports (who may or may not be doing a good job) do not look to you as a leader. They simply think of you as their boss.

Here’s why this matters:
To be successful, your team members need to have a certain level of pride, passion and personal stake in their roles. Without these attributes, your employees won’t be driven to give their best performances. The organization as a whole suffers if the team is not motivated. Motivation and passion are qualities that you can hire for, but that can also be easily squelched in a negative environment.

Leadership tips to get out of the boss zone:
Being in the boss zone is not a permanent condition. By following these important leadership tips, you should be able to change the way you are perceived from boss to leader. Keep in mind that it will take time to create a shift in mindset. Consistency is key.

  • Be genuine. A relationship must start on a deeper level. Get to know your team members on a deeper level, understanding their learning styles, their strengths and weaknesses as well as their career goals.
  • Encourage mistakes. Encourage risk and let your team members feel empowered to take the lead themselves, even if a mistake could happen.
  • Be supportive. By supporting your team in times of need, especially when dealing with external departments or vendors, you create an atmosphere of loyalty and trust.
  • Listen up. Be sure to ask for feedback occasionally from your team and when it’s offered, listen. You might just pick up a tidbit or two that can change your operations for the better.
  • Do something. Roll up your sleeves and help your team in the trenches when needed. This proves that you’re willing to do whatever it takes, that you know what you’re doing and that you are a part of the team.

These tips won’t turn you into a bonafide leader overnight, but they can, if consistently applied over time, establish you as someone with leadership qualities. The benefits of changing the working dynamic will be many, including higher productivity, positive culture, loyalty, innovation and much more.


Oasis Outsourcing, the nation’s largest, privately held professional employer organization (PEO) can help you with your human resources needs ranging from leadership training for your management team to employment law compliance to payroll and benefits processing and much more. Outsourcing your HR efforts to the attentive, expert team at Oasis can free you up to focus on running your business.

Get started with a free, customized consultation today.

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