How to Stop Being a Boss and Start Being a Leader

How to Stop Being a Boss and Start Being a Leader
Being a boss sounds good, but there’s actually a better option: being a leader.
by Meredith Galante Oct 25, 2018 — 4 min read
How to Stop Being a Boss and Start Being a Leader

Do you know how to be an effective leader? If you want a high-performing team, then you need to know how to be a better leader. It’s about the way you interact and how you manage. Acting as a leader will serve you more than behaving like a boss. A boss can effectively manage a team by driving them to complete tasks and reach deadlines. But,you can do that without being a leader. However, a leader inspires, motivates and pushes their team to succeed beyond expectations. A motivational approach to management is far more effective than micromanagement. Let’s move you from a simple manager to an effective leader.

## 1. Let go of ego

If you want to learn how to be an effective leader, it begins with letting go of your ego. A true leader will do what it takes to get things done, whatever that may be. A task may be below their pay grade, but effective leaders know that they should be prepared to do any job they ask of their employees. If your team is knee-deep working toward a deadline, there’s nothing to stop you from brewing a fresh pot of coffee, or providing lunch. Likewise, there is no reason the boss can’t get their hands dirty so the team knows you’re with them all the way.

2. Build trust

The first step to building trust with your team is listening. And, learning how to be a good leader must involve active listening. If you have this soft skill, your experience doesn’t matter. By letting your team speak up, and speak out, you not only build trust but also ensure you get the best ideas. Listening doesn’t mean that you agree with every opinion or idea that employees share, but it provides them with validation and encourages them to keep coming back. Ultimately, you create an environment that will help all of your employees feel valued and trusted. According to one survey, 85% of workers would work harder and longer for an empathetic employer, but over half of employees don’t believe theirs is.

3. Communicate your vision clearly

A good manager has a clear vision; a great leader knows how to communicate that vision to their team. If you want to know how to be a better leader, you will work on your communication skills. What’s the overarching vision for the company’s future? What about your long-term vision? What are your short-term goals? You need to communicate this to your team regularly; the work they do should contribute to your vision and goals.

4. Give feedback and accept it

Strong leaders will praise their employees because when an employee feels valued, they will perform well. It’s just as important that you provide constructive criticism. When you do deliver a criticism, offer praise before and after to soften the blow. Think about how you provide feedback and consider providing a suggestion or solution to help them address the issue. It’s a two-way street, though, and you can encourage employees to provide feedback by asking incisive questions such as how can I better support you? If it’s easier, you can set up a survey system to take the office temperature regularly.

5. Stay calm

Business can be stressful, and sometimes it feels like you are on a rollercoaster. That being said, a great leader knows how to stay calm. When the boss freaks out, it rolls downhill and everyone starts to panic. You set the tone for your employees, and by staying calm, you also keep them calm and productive.

6. A positive attitude

A great leader, someone who can transform a team, is optimistic. Their positive attitude is inspirational for their team and helps even the bleakest periods seem okay. When a leader maintains optimism during difficult times, it provides employees with hope no matter how great the challenge they face.

7. Encourage contribution

The boss should always have the final say in decisions, but that doesn’t mean they need to act like an autocrat. A great leader effectively operates with a participative or democratic style that welcomes group involvement. If someone has an idea, they should feel free to offer it. The more people working to contribute ideas, the more innovative your team will be. Buy-in is an incredibly important part of the employee-management relationship, and great leaders secure buy-in from their employees by encouraging contribution.

8. Try new things

When you find a successful groove, don’t stop. If you get too comfortable, the formula may stop working. You need to mix things up with new ways to motivate, reward and inspire. What was effective before may not be effective tomorrow. People respond differently, so you may need to experiment with different ways to motivate different people.

9. Room to grow

If you want to know how to be a good leader, you need to understand what your employees want. Employees need room to grow, and it’s up to you to put them in the right roles and provide them with room to develop in the right direction. People need to feel as though there’s a ladder to climb, and if there isn’t, they will simply move on and go somewhere else. If your business is expanding and you’re opening new locations, aim to fill management roles with existing employees rather than looking for external candidates.

10. Flexible scheduling

If you want to know how to be a good leader, know that offering your employees flexible scheduling can make all the difference. Technology has evolved, and in doing so, has rapidly changed how businesses operate. If you expect your team to pick up work emails outside of working hours, then you should extend the same flexibility in return. That could be through working from home opportunities, flexi-time, or scheduling options. Progressive employers attract top talent, and flexible scheduling is one of the musts if you want to be viewed as a progressive employer.

With Square Team Management, you can manage hours, schedule, and create custom permissions from anywhere. Even if it’s a last-minute shift swap or you need to add late support in before a busy day.

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Meredith Galante
Meredith Galante is a freelancer writer based in New York City. She's been writing for Square since 2017 where she's covered everything from the best software for restaurants to use to maximize profit, minimum wage laws across the country, and tips for entrepreneurs to maximize their impact.

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