Over the past few years, I’ve seen a few different versions of the same cartoon. In the first, a group of workers are toiling away while a man sits apart from them lounging in the shade with a whip. Over the cartoon, the title says, “Boss.” Next to it, another cartoon depicts workers toiling, but instead of sitting in the shade, there’s a man leading them, lifting with them, and obviously working hard himself. Over it, the title reads, “Leader.” The contrast between the two is stark, and it’s intended to make you think about whether you’re a leader or a boss and what kind of performance your management or leadership style inspires in your employees.
If you want to inspire the best performance possible and retain employees who will help you grow your business faster and more effectively, then you should be striving to be the leader rather than the boss. Yes, you’ll have to get in the metaphorical trenches with your team on occasion, but you’ll inspire them much more than if you just bark orders, lock yourself away in your office, or head out for some leisure time during a crisis. Follow a couple of simple tips, and you’ll be much more likely to inspire outstanding performance and greater loyalty in your team.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
If you want your employees to put in consistent, quality work for you, you need to show them that you’re just as dedicated as you want them to be. You don’t have to be the first one in and the last one out every day, but you do need to show up for work consistently and show that you’re putting in the effort to build and grow your business.
This works to inspire your employees in a couple of ways. First off, they’re more likely to stay focused and get work done when they know that their boss is working just as hard as they are. Second, they’re going to feel more confident in the company and your dedication to its continued growth if they see you taking the steps necessary to get more clients, build your brand, and create a scalable model that will grow into the future.
DON’T BE A ROBOT
There’s this myth that leaders need to be stoics, that they need to show no emotion and be strictly logical. But do you really want to work for someone like that? Of course not. So don’t be a robot. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show your emotions. Let your employees know when you’re excited, when you’re happy with their work, and even when you’re concerned about progress on a particular project.
When you show emotion, though, be sure that you don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Yelling at an employee for making a mistake isn’t professional, and it won’t exactly encourage people to let you know when they’re having difficulties or when they have recommendations or critiques for certain processes.
On the other hand, keeping your cool and having a quiet, private, professional conversation about the mistake and what can be done to avoid it in the future will show your employees that they’re safe taking risks, that you want them to do their best, and that they can come to you whenever they have problems that they need help with.
Follow these tips and see how much more you can inspire your team to perform better and get more done. Remember, the more you lead by example and the more approachable you are, the more you can count on your team to work with you to meet deadlines, create amazing products, and innovate in your industry.