The Differences Between a Boss and a Leader The Differences Between a Boss and a Leader

The Differences Between a Boss and a Leader

Small business owners wear a lot of hats. You might be the bookkeeper, marketer and sales person in your office. If you’re managing a team, you might think of yourself as the boss.

But you should be thinking “leader”.

In a recent SmartBiz customer survey, small business owners reported that “employee retention” is one issue that keeps them up at night. How you lead your team can directly impact if employees are constantly looking for a new job or if they are “in it to win it” with you. Here are the differences and tips on how to lead your small business towards success.

Leaders don’t rule “It’s my way or the highway” doesn’t create a pleasant office atmosphere. A leader wants to educate employees to foster a “we strive to succeed together” atmosphere.

Bosses instill fear Have you ever had a job where a whispered “the boss is coming” causes an elevated heart rate and clammy hands? That’s not an atmosphere where employees thrive. Take a look at your attitude and behavior. Are you causing anxiety in the office? Work on establishing a fear-free company culture. There are lots of great resources to help you get it going. Check out these 12 books about how to establish a positive company culture.

Leaders lead by example Do you want your office to be a creative, positive space? The best way to encourage these important traits is to exemplify them yourself. If you stomp into the office and focus on the negative, it can spread through the office like a winter cold.

A boss is impersonal. Improved employee retention is one of the big benefits of a compassionate workplace. If an employee needs time off to care for a sick relative, attend a funeral or have a medical procedure it can impact productivity. Your attitude towards time off or other life events will make a big difference. Showing compassion lowers employee stress and can strengthen your company culture.

A leader develops people. There’s a difference between using an employee to keep the books and developing an employee’s skill set so they can grow and advance. Keep your employees energized by offering to pay for online classes or workshops. It’s an investment that can give great returns.

A boss takes credit. A leader gives credit. One of the best things you can do to foster a positive company culture is to recognize employees for their hard work. A few simple and cost effective strategies can go a long way to make employees feel appreciated. Check out 101 Ways to Show Employees Appreciation from Open Forum.

A leader delegates. There are few things more frustrating to an employee than being micromanaged. Small business owners can get used to “doing it all” and handing over tasks can be uncomfortable. Work on trusting your key employees to take over tasks that keep you from building your business. Richard Branson sums it up neatly:

“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” 

Take a look at your office culture. If you find that you’ve created a “bossy” atmosphere, all is not lost. You can work on establishing a culture of leadership to benefit your employees and your overall business. Time Magazine suggests these three books to help you develop your leadership skills.

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