The distinction between being managed and directed by a boss versus cultivated and nurtured by a leader is extremely critical both for the mindset of the boss/leader and the employee/follower. Like mentioned in a previous post (Manufacturing Integrity into Trust), managers, especially C-suite or higher-level ones, need to be mindful of how the decisions they make for the company will impact the employees at work and into their outside life. Switching from thinking like a manager to having the mindset of a leader is a powerful transition that will have extremely positive ramifications.
The change to this mindset will not happen overnight for either the manager and especially for the company. I really love this video on Leader vs Boss (1) that explains the difference in behaviors between the two. In my MBA program, the students are learning to demonstrate leadership over management through these and similar principles. Even though I currently do not have employees/followers within my current position, I still use these leadership concepts into my work and beyond everyday; I look to understand before looking to be heard, I emphasize the importance of connecting rather than demanding results, and I look for constant valuable feedback to improve myself, my team, and process. There are other specific behaviors that reinforce the leadership mindset while downplaying the “boss attitude;” I wanted to cover these three first because I felt they were the most important.
One of my favorite phrases, which I recently learned, is “fight as if you’re right, listen as if you’re wrong.” Being an only-child of two very strong-willed parents made this a very humbling and tough lesson to learn and continue to improve upon, which makes it all the more valuable to me. To enter a discussion, whether you already agree or disagree, with a closed mouth and opened ears and mind does not come easily to most people, but it does allow group decision-making a lot more effective with less headache because everyone’s input is being valued equally with due consideration. This principle needs to be applied whether you’re the bottom rung of the corporate ladder or the head honcho. We’re all humans, we all make mistakes yet we’re also compassionate and need to bring that to the table as much as our brilliant ideas.
This compassion also allows for us to connect, which is also a strong human-based desire. Humans are social creatures and just because we go to work everyday doesn’t mean we leave those tendencies and instincts at home. A leader who is able to genuinely connect on a professional level can help the company grow so much more effectively than a manager who only repeats the company’s goals and the direction on how to achieve those goals. Providing an avenue to authentically connect with employees/followers is to first step towards building a trusting relationship between the leader and the rest of the company.
By developing a trusting relationship, this access opens up allowance to give and receive critical feedback between both parties. Feedback is the only information source that every person, process, and business uses to become better, to be able to meet your goals more effectively than the current strategy being implemented. Without it, nothing can hope to grow and improve. This is a huge difference between managers and leaders. The former doesn’t put any additional effort into making their current resources better, but rather uses finds it easier to just replace them once they’re expended. Leaders look to invest their effort into cultivating their current resources until they become sustainable, which waterfalls into other resources eventually multiplying the sustainability effect.
These practices are the initial, big-picture attributes to being a leader and can be practiced by anyone in any organization or industry, not just manufacturing. These are more life lessons than just simple good business practices. Let me know how you (currently or will start to) practice these attributes on a daily basis by Tweeting me @KaitCook18.
1) Video courtesy of Peaceful Century magazine.
Photo credit: http://msl-cdn.radiantforestllc.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/boss-vs-leader-800×800.png