The mindset for how to be a leader not a boss is pretty simple, right? I have something that needs to be done. I choose someone to do that “thing” and offer a price for them to do it. If they accept the price I offer, they begin doing the thing(s) I need done.
It’s the same process no matter if it is a freelance graphics designer, consultant, full-time employee, or a contractor building a room edition.
It seems pretty straight forward, until you get human behavior involved.
It is an agreement between two adults.
Do I have the final say on how it’s done? Most likely. Outside of regulations and governing laws, I’m paying for the thing that needs to be don and have to live with the results. If decisions need to be made that are outside what I outlined in the instructions and parameters for the task, it’s on me to decide.
Will I defer to their expertise and experience for which I chose them? Probably. It’s my job to give them the tools they need, instruct them on the outcome desired, then get out of the way.
I lead. I manage. I give guidance. I don’t own a human.
I take a strong leadership role by taking responsibility for how well I provide the tools for others to do their job.
When I hire or enter into an agreement with someone, that doesn’t make me lord and master over them. It is an exchange, not ownership.
I can terminate the agreement if I don’t like the job they’re doing.
They can terminate the agreement if I make it difficult, cause or allow the environment to be toxic, and add tasks to the job that were not agreed upon, without adding to their compensation.
If I have an agreement with other people to do other things I need to be done and those people make it difficult for person one to do their job, it’s my responsibility to intervene, as I have the agreement with both.
The boss mindset is antiquated and must be retired.
The word “boss” is derived from the word “master.” Have you ever known the word “boss” or “master” to evoke feelings of joy and empowerment? Maybe in some situations, but not in any work environment I’ve ever witnessed.
When treating another human being as property or subordinate, it’s demeaning and strips them of their dignity, their worth, their power. That mentality is not conducive to fostering the sought after “engagement” organizations profess to be seeking.
If you want people to enjoy and thrive in their work (your “thing” that needs to be done) give them the tools to do it. Those tools include dignity.
People who can enter into these agreements are adults, making decisions to exchange time and skill for money. When you treat the relationship as such, you get better results for all involved.
I am not your master. I am not the boss of you.
If you feel you need to be someone’s boss and wield power over them, what you really need is to ask yourself why.
What motivates your need to take on a superior role to another person?
Your job in a leadership role is to empower people to do their best. Stripping people of power breads resentment, defiance, lowers mental ability to function at optimal levels, and can even escalate or bring about illness.
Fear motivation will not produce the same results as empowered motivation.
A good leader owns their role. A boss doesn’t.
Will some people slack off and take on an irresponsible childlike behavior? You bet some will. That’s when you take into consideration ending the agreement after you have run through your honest assessment of:
- Have they been given clear instruction of what needs to be done, how, and when?
- Did I stick to the agreement of the above or have I or others made adjustments or thrown things into chaos?
- Have I created the environment for them to thrive in their role?
- Have I given them to tools to do the tasks?
- Did I somehow strip them of their dignity and desire to do their best?
- Have I allowed other people to interfere with their ability to do the job?
- Is it possible my personal judgement or perception of the person has become an obstacle in how I enable them to do their job?
If you have honestly answered “yes” to 1 -4 and “no” to 5 -7, then you find another person to do the “things.” If not, you need to adjust your mindset to your true role as a leader.
The key is being honest about the role you have played. A good leader is someone who can be honest about the role they play in influencing the environment, behaviors, and outcomes.
A boss feels they don’t have to answer to anyone about anything. Bosses get bad results.
My sister recently gave me a pair of socks that read, “You’re Not the Boss of Me” because I decided years ago (okay, decades ago), I am my own master.
I am the boss of me, and I have no ego issues that compel me to ever want to be the boss of you or anyone.