How to Stop Being a Boss and Start Being a Leader

Want your team members to perform at a higher level? How you interact with your team could be the key. There are differences between being a boss and being a leader. And acting as the latter can help your employees feel more engaged and succeed at work.

As a boss, it’s possible to manage your team effectively — help them meet deadlines, finish tasks, etc. — without leading them. A leader has a vision and can inspire and motivate employees to do work beyond what is expected or required. Not surprisingly, research by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that teams motivated by leaders perform better than those who are tightly managed by bosses.

So how do you go from boss to leader? Try these five tips to start leading more today:

Leave your ego behind

A leader will do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if the task feels below the pay grade. If your team members are currently working hard on the task at hand and are good at it, jump in to do the dirty work. If you run the copier or make a pot of coffee it will help the to team see you’re in the trenches too, and will help them respect you more.

Build Trust

Listening can be the first step in building trust. Even if someone doesn’t have the most experience, letting all of your team members feel like they can speak up and share thoughts will help breed the best ideas. It will also build an environment that helps employees feel trusted and valued.

Remember, just because you’re listening doesn’t mean you necessarily agree. Just be honest and empathetic when responding. Empathy goes a long way — 80 percent of workers said they would be willing to work longer hours for a more empathetic employer.

Communicate your vision

If a leader is someone with a vision for a team, then they need to share it with their team. Seems pretty basic, but 61 percent of employees don’t know their company’s vision for the future. Make sure you communicate your long-term vision and short-term goals regularly. To make sure your employees feel included in that vision, remind them how their work contributes to it.

Give and receive feedback

A good leader praises his or her employees. Employees who feel valued will continue to perform well in their job — and maybe even go above and beyond. Seventy-eight percent of employees agreed that being recognized helps motivate them do better work, according to Officevibe. Additional research found that 82 percent of employees appreciate feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. This is a good reason to say “great job!” A little praise can go a long way.

(On the flip side, a study by Randstad found that lack of recognition is one of the top reasons employees leave a job. And Officevibe found that four out of 10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.)

But to effectively lead, you also want to encourage your employees to give you feedback — bad or good. You can encourage team feedback by asking questions such as, “What would you change about our team?” or, “What can I do to better support you?” If you prefer the private route, asking employees to fill out a survey about the work environment can give you feedback to better shape your working atmosphere.

Keep Calm

Being a good leader means being able to endure the ups and downs of life and business. A manager might freak out and cause distress among the team because of a failed deal or lost business. However, a leader will take a step back, help the team learn and grown — and then move forward.

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