What is leadership?
There are plenty of people in the business world who think that leadership is declaring yourself in charge and then verbally abusing and cutting down anyone who doesn’t fall in line. Fortunately, most people know that’s not how leadership works and a lot of them are able to recognize the difference between a boss and a leader.
If you are in a position of management over others, how can you be sure you are creating a working environment that is not toxic? How sure are you that you are leading instead of bossing everyone around? Are you aware of the traits of highly effective leaders?
Why Is Leadership Important?
We’ve all had jobs we dread going to every day.
When you have a bad boss, it just drains the life right out of you and everyone around you. Working in an environment like that is oppressive and can eventually take a toll on your health.
Only 59% of people working for a bad boss feel passionate about their job while 94% of those with great bosses say they feel passionate about work. What’s more, 14% of engagement at work has to do with how employees rate their boss. Being a bad boss doesn’t just make people unhappy, but it also affects performance on the job.
Bad leadership also drives away good employees.
Two in three people have left a job or plan to leave their current job because of poor leadership. Of those who plan to leave their job over the next year, 77% say they have a bad boss while just 18% say they have a good boss.
People with bad managers report their behavior as self-absorbed, rude, selfish, lazy, arrogant, and untrustworthy. It’s not difficult to imagine why so many people would want to get away from such bosses.
Meanwhile, those with good bosses report their behavior as honest, supportive, trustworthy, respectful, and communicative. It’s easy to see why working in that type of environment would be preferable.
How To Be A Leader, Not A Boss
If you are in a position of management, it’s worth taking stock of your leadership traits to see whether there are any areas where you can make an improvement.
The most important traits of highly effective leaders include:
- Clear purpose – Know your goals and have a plan to achieve them.
- Contagious passion – If your job isn’t getting you out of bed in the morning, it’s not getting your employees out of bed, either.
- Self-accountability – Own up to your mistakes and create an environment where others feel free to do the same without fear of punishment.
- Flexible determination – Be willing to change courses when needed.
- Sustainable outlook – Ensure your goals are achievable.
- Dual focus – Keep your eyes on the prize, but don’t forget the little stuff along the way.
These are the traits of highly effective leaders and they can be learned. If you truly want to be a good leader, all you have to do is take stock of your leadership qualities from time to time and make adjustments.
If you find yourself casting blame and being punitive, look at your goals and plans. They might not be realistic anymore and they could be in need of an update to make them work again.
Making periodic checks of your goals and workflow can help prevent you from becoming a scared, punitive, angry boss instead of a leader. Understanding that your employees are your team and everyone shares the same goals creates a much better working environment.
Why Leadership Matters
Would it surprise you to learn that 65% of workers say they would choose a better boss over a higher salary?
Your leadership style has a direct impact on your company’s bottom line in the form of quality of work, turnover, and more. Bad bosses drive good workers away and make those who stay less effective at their jobs. Good bosses attract better talent and help people achieve their fullest potential.
Focus on building relationships instead of managing people and let people manage themselves. Take an interest in employees’ lives and make sure they know you care about them. Stay consistent, give feedback consistently, and recognize when someone on your team accomplishes something — little celebrations along the way confirm a job well done.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.