Watch a group of children at play on a school playground..
There are usually three groups – those who lead, those who follow and those who are simply present. You will quickly notice that one or two children are the ones who have the ideas that other children accept and follow. These are the leaders. Others have ideas and offer suggestions and occasionally their ideas and suggestions are honored, usually because the “leaders” allow them to be. This group will generally join in all the activity of the group and become the “followers.” The children in third group will sometimes join the group as a follower and sometimes sit on the sidelines.
What do these natural young leaders have that sets them apart? Generally they have creative ideas, follow through, persuasion, energy, and a camaraderie that encourages each member of the group to accept their ideas. They aren’t afraid to try new things and they aren’t afraid or ashamed to make mistakes, often laughing because they did. The leader says, “Who wants to be on my team?” and the followers say, “Pick me, pick me.” The others stand around waiting to be told what they should do. They may wander off and do their own thing.
Things don’t change much as we become adults. Now and then the roles switch when a follower develops some leadership skills and discovers abilities and talents that had been dormant. This change may take place because of education, mentoring, self-development and self-improvement or simply the opportunity to step into a leadership position. It may emerge simply as a result of maturity. But as adults, things get more complex and the stakes are much higher. One thing remains the same, however. A true leader attracts the followers and even some of those in the “out group.” They want to work for him and the employee turnover is generally low. The leader knows how to inspire his employees to get the job done, on time and sometimes even under budget. He or she sets an example and brings out the best of his followers as much as possible. He allows them to take credit for the work they do and gives them honest, but kind, critiques and praise.
The major point is that the leaders lead, not push.
What about a boss? What does a boss do? What is a boss like? Of course, a boss is in charge – the decision maker, the keeper of the keys, the budget and the pay check. The name implies “giving orders and expecting them to be followed.” The stereotype is that the boss is pushy, “bossy,” in control, and often uncaring, harsh and opinionated. This is of course a stereotypical description but, unfortunately it is sometimes true. The boss let’s everyone know that he’s the boss and expects obedience to his orders and perhaps even to his whims. He generally doesn’t welcome ideas, suggestions or critiques – that’s his job. The boss is comparable to the schoolyard bully. Pushing and shoving his employees to produce and conform. There is generally a high turnover rate in the office or workplace of the “Boss.”
The leader can easily be titled “The Boss” and lead his team to success. But it is highly unlikely that the person who is the bully ”Boss” will ever be a true leader.
The leader utilizes power. The boss uses force. There is a huge difference. To learn more about the difference I recommend the book Power Vs. Force by David Hawkins, available at your local bookstore or on the internet. It makes the difference between Leader and Boss crystal clear.
Irene Conlan has a masters degree in nursing, a doctoral degree in metaphysics, is a certified hypnotherapist and an ordained minister. She practices holistic hypnotherapy and officiates at weddings in Scottsdale, Az and the Phoenix metropolitan area. Irene can be found at http://www.theselfimprovementblog.com
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