Tips for Becoming a Leader Instead of a Boss


A boss is someone who rules with an iron fist, often using intimidation to get results. A leader is someone who can provide direction and support and empower their employees. And while we look at “boss” and “leader” as interchangeable words, they really aren’t. An effective leader is someone who guides their employees rather than controls them. Which characteristics would you rather bring to the table? Here are some of the things that separate leaders from bosses and how you can develop skills to be a better leader in the workplace.

  • Don’t see the world in only black and white. To someone who manages as a boss, the world is black and white. There are right ways and wrong ways to complete a task. There may be no room for creative freedom, changes in efficiency or new ideas to alter the way things have been done before. But a leader can see all the shades of gray and even a rainbow of colors in between. They’re willing to look at alternatives, consider ideas and judge each employee by their own merits.
  • Teach, don’t command. We’ve had a national conversation about the term “bossy” over the last few years. It’s no surprise the word is used in a negative way. Boss implies control. A boss is someone who will tell their employees how to do their jobs, but a leader will use every opportunity to teach and encourage staff to learn. Leaders are willing to share their knowledge, not hoard it, and understand the different learning styles present on their team.
  • Use trust rather than fear. A big reason employees leave jobs is because they don’t get along with their managers. Usually this is because their manager uses fear and intimidation rather than building trust with their employees. If an employee only does their job out of fear of punishment or retribution, they’re not going to give their all. A leader, on the other hand, will trust the people they’ve hired to use their skills to benefit everyone in the organization.
  • Be collaborative and helpful. There have been many pop culture references to bosses sitting in their corner offices and not working at all. That’s the perk of the job, right? But that’s not how real life works. Being unwilling to pitch it, yet micromanaging the staff will only backfire. Instead, be willing to collaborate with your team to determine the best solutions to problems and pitch in when your skills and expertise can benefit the project.
  • Coach instead of criticize. Critical comments are a popular tool of a typical boss. They may resort to intimidation or personal attacks to drive productivity, but this is unsustainable. A leader understands that positive reinforcement and praise will have better and longer-lasting results in the workplace. If an employee isn’t performing up to their standards, coach them to improve by evaluating their strengths and redirecting their energy.

Do you want to be a strong leader in the workplace?

At Professional Staffing Group, we work closely with our clients to guide them toward strong leadership roles. Contact us today and let us help you improve your management style and be an employer of choice in your community.

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