The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree
Leadership is probably one of the most sought after traits in human history. Human civilisation has appreciated it across centuries, each era in its own way. Whether it’s leading legions across a battlefield or heading a team in a corporate firm, humanity has always understood the importance of leadership for any endeavour to succeed.
So naturally, some questions arise, what are the characteristics of a leader? How do we determine who is a true leader? Is there such a thing as bad leadership?
Many in positions of power and authority are by definition in leadership positions. However, that doesn’t mean they possess the right criteria that enables them to be actual leaders.
There’s a vast array of circumstances that allow those unfit to lead to actually be given that responsibility. In these cases, it’s usually obvious that they don’t belong there. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless and powerful man, but that doesn’t mean he was a leader.
We don’t exactly encounter dictators on a day to day basis, but we do encounter bad leadership in ways we’re more familiar with, such as our bosses.
Just to be clear, being a boss in itself is fine. But that’s just it, it’s fine at best, and horrible at worst.
Everyone has a boss, and most of us don’t like them. It could be subjective, after all, many people don’t want to be told what to do even if it’s the right thing to do.
However, it is possibly an objective sentiment shared by many around the world.
This is found more evidently when you meet workers who have experienced working under what they call a good boss. They can compare and will immediately tell you how much they preferred it when their good boss, so clearly, there’s reason to believe that something is up with most bosses.
Why? The simply answer we want to deliver here is, they’re not leaders.
So What’s the difference? Let’s find out.
A boss’s source of authority is his position or title.
They command their authority simply through their given role in the workplace they’re in. Why do you have to listen to them? Because they’re your boss. Is that by itself a bad thing? Again, no, but as we will see, it’s not the best.
By definition, a boss can be bossy. No humble or down to earth person has ever been called bossy, and vice versa. That doesn’t exactly create a great work environment. If a person who is in command, behaves as though they are also in a sense, above you in standing, that makes for a toxic workplace.
Most likely, a boss’s vision is narrow minded or egotistical. They look for their own success before looking at anything else including even the company’s. They even possibly view the success of their subordinates as simply a means to boost their own profile.
A boss is always thinking of their own position’s safety, rather than the overall success and growth of the company. That’s why they never mentor anyone. They’re too scared of being replaced because they think too much of themselves. You’ll see them taking credit for every single task being completed.
A leader’s authority comes instinctively from those working under them. They obviously understand they have to do they as they say, but they actually want to do it. They respect their leader, and would still treat them with the utmost respect and admiration outside of the workplace (without wanting to suck up).
A leader leads by serving those they lead. They push the pack forward, rather than dragging them behind them. They want to guide you and help as best they can.
A leader doesn’t care about taking credit. In fact, they will do their very best to help the workers grind out the best results through their guidance and help. Whatever ensures achieving the vision of the workplace, that’s what the leader is all about. That’s why they’re great at delegation as well.
A true leader starts looking for a successor the day they became in charge. Their final aim is not to be at the same job forever, it’s to further the vision and mission of where they work, and help those around them grow and improve in their careers. They’re basically, not self-centred.
Are there successful companies with regular bosses at the helm of their managerial positions? Maybe, but they’re not built to last. A true long-lasting healthy work environment needs leaders.
Leaders who will work their hardest to make sure everyone around them is doing their best, and feeling their best at the same time.
Leaders will put others’ needs before themselves, thereby creating a safe and friendly community where workers can trust one another and depend on each other. That means less fighting, less drama, and less time wasted. Most importantly, it means less people hating their jobs, it means more people having healthier happier lives that are more fulfilled and satisfied, because their boss at work, is not a jerk.