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Lead Your Team Managing

Are You a True Leader, or Just a Boss?

Are You a True Leader, or Just a Boss?
Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

How do you know if you're a good boss and, more importantly, a good leader? The two roles aren't mutually exclusive, but the best bosses are actually leaders first.

"When the boss is a true leader, the fact that he or she is the boss might be a side note," said Charles A. Mohler, president and founder of Eagle CFO Consulting. "People often see a boss as getting things accomplished through rewards or punishment or consequences, while they see a leader as using mentorship and encouragement, trying to teach and train and motivate."

"A leader runs with their team and empowers them with a shared vision and strong values in which everyone enrolls and excels," added Jennifer Borba Von Stauffenberg, founder of Olive PR Solutions. "A boss can mean the same thing if the boss in question holds these values."

According to the Great Boss Assessment survey by S. Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, only 45 percent of survey respondents say their boss inspires their best efforts each day. Fifty-eight percent say their boss treats them with trust and respect daily, which means 42 percent of bosses treat team members with distrust and disrespect.

Experts agree that, when bosses embrace leadership qualities, they're more likely to inspire their team. [See Related Story: Are You an Effective Leader? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself]

According to Mohler, good leaders have following characteristics:

  • They have an open-door policy.
  • They're willing to work with their staff and their team.
  • They're able to share the purpose or the "why" of what's being accomplished.
  • They're open to input and consider different perspectives when they're making a decision.

"A good boss elevates everyone around them, provides the resources they need to do their job well and acknowledges them often," Borba Von Stauffenberg added. "Additionally, a good boss allows each team member to be brilliant by staying out of their way but is willing to get in the trenches with them when needed."

To become a better leader, reach out to mentors to get feedback on your strengths and weaknesses, Mohler suggested. This way, you'll know what you need to improve on and what kind of information you need to seek out.

"From there, read books on leadership and actively participate in the company," he added. "Don't wait for someone to give you a title; just jump in and take the lead."

If you're still uncertain of your abilities, look to the team you've been leading, Borba Von Stauffenberg suggested.

"You'll know you're a good boss because you see it in your team's work and on their faces," she said. "The success is there."

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.