A word from our President and Founder:
We read the articles all the time about the differences between a boss and a leader, which is all good, but it’s important to remember that both are necessary in business. The primary responsibilities of a leader are to provide guidance, motivation, discipline, direction, be an example and to develop future leaders. If you were to ask the average employee their idea of a leader, “someone nice, flexible and pays well” is what we’d likely hear in response. Those are the characteristics of a boss. See what we did there? Yup, we dropped a little knowledge. Leaders tend to focus on their responsibilities, while bosses, lean more personality.
I remember the first time I experienced the difference. I was young and recently promoted to my first management position. I loved my boss, let’s call her Susan, because she was the sweetest person I’d ever met! She was nice, never raised her voice and smiled a lot. I realized at some point that I although I liked here, I didn’t respect her because I considered her a “pushover.” I’ll never forget the day my opinion changed. There was an unhappy customer that let Susan have. The customer yelled, screamed, cursed, threatened, it was awful. I felt the need to protect my boss, so I chimed in and Susan seamlessly redirected the sass-mouth attack back to herself. Susan gracefully apologized, smiled and did her best to correct the situation, all with a calm professional demeanor. When the customer left, I yelled “why did you let her talk to you like that? You should have said (whatever).” Her response was priceless. “No one will cause me to lose my professionalism. Nothing is worth that.”
Those words had such an impact on me that day and every day since. Susan was a leader. We spoke in detail about it and it changed the way I viewed her and ultimately how I viewed the people I reported to after that. The philosophy was so simple; people look up to those they report to and it’s important to not let them down. To Susan, every move she made affected someone (employees, boss, company or customers) and she was going to make every move count for something. Being someone her team could depend on was important to her and she took a lot of pride in it. From that day forward, I focused less on being “nice” and more on leading by example, the way Susan did.