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How to Grow From a Boss to a Leader

Blog / February 6, 2020

Not every boss is a leader. A boss is worried about outcomes. A leader inspires. A boss micromanages, criticizes, and disciplines. A leader is compassionate, committed to developing their employees’ skills, and making progress. Bosses bark orders and assign tasks while leaders produce effective and long-lasting results. Bossy people are more likely to fail, and leaders more likely to succeed. Here are some tips on being a leader instead of a boss.

Like your people

Your team is filled with a cast of characters, individuals with different personalities, skills, talents, and challenges. Get to know them so you can put them in positions to succeed. Treat everyone equally and don’t let your personal biases affect the team dynamic.

Be flexible

It’s not your way or the highway! Be open to new processes and ideas and welcome ideas from your team. Don’t compromise your expectations, but you might have to adapt your leadership style to fit the needs and individuality of your team members.

Teach and learn

Guide with advice, brainstorming, and feedback, but don’t micromanage every little step. Constructive criticism is useful, but positivity and encouragement are even more important. Recognize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and challenge your team to improve. Praise successes and jump in to help when obstacles arise. While a boss already knows it all, leaders are willing to learn from those with less seniority and respect the skills, opinions, and experiences of their employees.

Motivate and inspire

Bosses tend to constrain self-expression, which kills motivation and innovation, and too often leads to resentment. Instead, figure out what gets your team to perform at the highest levels and expect greatness from them. Cheer their successes and encourage self-sufficiency.

Give credit and accept blame

Leaders know that success is a result of teams’ efforts and are humble enough to praise and reward those employees responsible for it. But when the team fails, you also need to accept responsibility and not blame individuals. Turn those failures are learning opportunities.


Listen and inquire, don’t dictate and demand. Ask for feedback and ideas about critical topics from your team, and be willing to share information that empowers them. Don’t keep secrets and be honest. Check in with the group and with individuals as needed and clearly communicate your expectations.

Be hands on

Allow for autonomy and delegate big responsibilities, but know when you need to step in. Show your employees that you trust them to make decisions and handle challenges, but that you’re there to support them with time and resources. Don’t be an absentee boss—go the extra mile and demonstrate that you’re part of the team, willing to take on the same tasks you ask them to.

For more advice on managing your team, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh