It’s the first week of 2019 and everyone is making their resolutions, setting new goals and proclaiming their new year, new me transformations, to the world. Many of these endeavors align with losing some extra pounds, saving more money, and maybe even uttering one less four letter word a day. With that said, I would like to suggest a resolution for some people. Specifically, those of you with a little bit of power and platform. While you consider improving your own personal health and productivity, perhaps this could be the year, that you also take a more personal look at how to improve the health and productivity of the teams you manage. I would like to suggest that 2019 be the year you all decide to step your manager game up, and become MORE of a LEADER and LESS of a BOSS.
Now, I know this may sound like crazy talk, but let’s do something you probably haven’t actually done with your own team in a while. Let’s workshop through this together, so that we’re truly all on the same page. For starters, per my MacBook dictionary, the definition of a Boss is a person in charge of a worker or organization. By definition a boss’s only job is to be the person to tell other people what to do.
As an approach to team management, being a boss tends to be a more self serving practice, that strokes egos and gives the illusion of power. A boss will concern themselves with being listened to, paid attention to, and even sometimes feared, as a tactic to influence others. A boss is often concerned with being made to look good, and may easily get frustrated when members of their team do not comply with the upkeep of this appearance. A boss can be found complaining about the knowledge and skills which their team members lack. They tend to be more tuned into their team’s current capabilities, and less concerned with their ability to advance the team’s potential. And on the topic of growth and development, many boss’s aren’t even sure what that is.
Now, If I type the word “Lead” into this same dictionary, I find it’s an ability to cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand. It’s quite the contrast to the definition of Boss. There is a lot more selflessness and engagement required of a leader. As a leader, your responsibility is to guide the people you manage. However, to guide someone somewhere, you must have a destination in mind. In the workplace, that destination should be professional success for the business, your team members and yourself.
A leader will often consider themselves as apart of the team, rather than above the team. As a member of the team, a leader will work with their team to strengthen weaker skills until they become stronger. A leader will listen to their team as much as they speak to them. This is because a true leader understands that they’re not always going to be the smartest person at the table. A leader will create opportunities for their team members to personally learn and publicly shine. Leaders understand their team members are not just resources, but rather people with lives outside of the workplace. Therefore a leader will work to be more empathetic to the personal needs of the team. A leader will recognize the success of their team is a reflection of their proactive engagement. So instead of focusing on what their team has done wrong, they will ask themselves, what can they can do to make things better. Most importantly, a leader recognizes their primary role as an advocate. With one foot close to leadership and one foot closer to the day to day staff, a leader is most effective when they can confidently advocate for their teams, at the tables which they have no seat nor voice. It is here, where true leadership is practiced, and evolved.
In 2019, lets pledge to be leaders. In my career, I’ve encountered and observed far too many managers who were great at their disciplines, yet terrible at managing the growth and development of other professionals. This begets a cycle in the workplace that encourages poor productivity, low morale, and high turnover. All of which, negatively affect the bottom line for businesses.
As we enter into this new year, and we wish everyone a prosperous 360something days (depending on when you read this), let’s take some ownership of that prosperity by being the managers and supervisors that eager, talented and diverse professionals deserve. If you find that this is not something you think you can do, then do everyone a favor and excuse yourself from the role. Let’s not continue to waste anyone else’s time, resource, money, or career.