Four Ways to Be a Less Bossy Boss

As I recently shared, some bosses are leaders, but not all of them. It is possible to be a boss and not be a leader, or be a leader without being a boss. A person may be in positional authority but not have influence, respect, or the ability to lead. And many people are able to lead and influence others without being in an official “leadership position.” Few leaders want to be known as being a “bossy boss,” and even fewer people want to work for one. So here are four ways to be sure you are leading, not just bossing.

1. Value people

Great leaders don’t devalue work, productivity, and results; they just value people more. A strong leader doesn’t believe one needs to choose between people and productivity. You can be results-oriented and still love and value people. When leaders really love and value people, people work and serve more joyfully and gratefully.

2. Embrace the identity of a servant

Great leaders realize that the people on their teams are unique, with different skills and personalities. Great leaders adjust to the context and to the people they are leading. One can only do this if one embraces the identity of a servant. If you feel “your people” must adjust to you, you likely are more bossy than you realize. Possibly without even realizing it, you view others as existing to serve you.

3. Offer the “why”

A great leader reminds the team of the “why” behind the activity, of the mission behind all the action. If you share the “why,” the team is much more likely to understand the tasks are connected to something larger. If you only assign people tasks, you are settling for execution without passion and conviction.

4. Keep a short record of wrongs

Often a boss will keep a long record of wrongs to build a case against a person. A leader keeps a short record of wrongs to build people. Because the motivation is development, a leader immediately provides feedback and coaching when problems arise. If problems persist, leaders often need to make changes that are best for the person and the team, but the starting point for a leader is development of others.

We need more leaders and fewer bosses. Value people. Be a servant. Offer the why. And deal with problems quickly because you actually want the best for those you lead.