One of the best (and worst) parts of the technological world in which we live today is the ability to share information. From tweets, Google alerts, Facebook posts, and blogs (just to name a few), sharing information is at an all-time high and the opinions of others are readily accessible, whether we like it or not. For the most part, this unlimited access is used for some really good things. More times than not, it’s a very valuable tool.
There are, however, some things that I come across that really get to me. For example, this boss versus leader debate that seems to be taking place in today’s workforce. I know this isn’t one of my blogs in my “C’mon man” series, but c’mon man!
I am sure you have all seen the picture that has gone viral. If not, allow me to summarize or draw a mental image, if you will. It depicts a side-by-side comparison of a “boss” and a “leader.” In the comparison, it lists only negative traits of a boss and only positive traits of a leader, seemingly suggesting that bosses are terrible people and leaders are the best thing to ever happen to us. For whatever reason, we have taken the word boss and demonized it.
Now, I know this might sound a little self-serving since I am in the leadership development industry, but to me, leadership has become a trending topic. The majority of people I know have fallen in love with this word instead of falling in love with its true definition.
Let me put it to you this way. What did we used to call a boss that possessed negative traits? I’ll say it with you: A bad boss. Are there bad bosses in today’s 21st-century workforce? Absolutely! I, however, happen to have had the opportunity to work for some great bosses. And let me tell you something; whether they were called a boss or a leader, their positive impact had nothing to do with their title.
Let’s say, for example, that you are working for someone you consider to be a “bad boss.” He or she wasn’t born this way. Somehow, somewhere, they were groomed and learned how to become a boss. And if this development was not intentional or pursued correctly, strategically, chances are they are a part of the “bad boss” crowd. This, again, is not necessarily their fault. A boss’s primary job is focused on leading the group of people in which they are in charge. Yet, in today’s workforce, we are prone to rendering them a leader.
We need to understand the difference. We need to recognize that a title does not give someone leadership qualities. Does it give one a platform to lead? Absolutely. But if you haven’t developed critical leadership skills you won’t be much of a leader and you will more than likely end up with the “bad boss” badge.
In order to keep my point clear, I will end with this. Being a boss, leader, manager, etc. is not an easy task. Much like anything else in life it takes consistent work and attention to detail to master this craft. Mistakes will be made along the way and sometimes people will not be happy with you. You can, however, learn from these mistakes by taking the same approach most world-class performers take and work everyday, consciously, on becoming a good boss.
In the English language, a boss is defined as someone who is in charge. Bosses are necessary. Someone has to be in charge of things and responsible for outcomes. There needs to be accountability, but let’s stop demonizing this word. If vast majorities of people are having bad experiences with their bosses, why don’t we put some time into building better bosses? Believe me, it is possible.