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Are You a Leader or Just a Boss?

Most managers are charged with rallying their teams to deliver against a business objective. But the ways in which managers actually manage says a lot about them and distinguishes those who are leaders from those who are just bosses. In case there’s any question, the more aspirational of the two—and the one who will yield better business results and a more motivated team—is the leader.
Here are six common business situations faced by managers and the ways in which they might be handled by each persona. Have a read and see which group you fit into—or want to!

Situation: A business mistake or problem is discovered.

  • A boss looks to assign blame for the breakdown.
  • A leader helps fix it.

Situation: A challenging goal faces the manager and their team.

  • A boss inspires fear as the motivator.
  • A leader generates enthusiasm.

Situation: A new skill set is required of the manager’s team.

  • A boss drives his team to acquire it.
  • A leader coaches his team to achieve it.

Situation: A status meeting is held to distribute new assignments.

  • A boss commands his team to execute the assignments.
  • A leader asks his team to participate—and collaborate on the assignments.

Situation: A new business concept is being developed.

  • A boss directs her team through deliverables owed.
  • A leader articulates a vision as inspiration.

Situation: A manager must brief equal members of a team on a familiar task.

  • A boss “uses” her team, but assigns it to the member who has done it most often for the greatest efficiency.
  • A leader develops her team by assigning the task to the member who stands to learn the most by executing it.

Management is a table stake. Leadership is a true talent that is never overlooked by recruiters, employers and, most importantly, employees. How does your organization build strong leaders?

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Austin Williams is an outcomes-driven full service advertising, marketing, digital and public relations agency, creating ideas that inspire action for clients in healthcare, higher education, financial services, nonprofits and professional services.


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