Do You Work With Leaders or Commanders?
You hate having someone stand over your shoulder because you find it smothering, even claustrophobic. You want to scream, “Let me do my job and quit micro-managing me!” But… it’s your boss, the manager. “Doesn’t he know he gets in my way and slows me down?” You’re seriously considering taking that other job, even though it’s less pay and not the work you love to do.

Second scenario: You love your job. The work is good and the management team is even better. They’re less like bosses and more like friends or family. Your immediate supervisor is a leader. She listens, leads by example, has your back, and shares a vision for you and the company. The problem is you’ve been offered a higher level (and higher paying) position at a competitor. Your decision? “I’m going to wait. It will happen here when I’m ready, and in the meantime, I can keep learning.”

The difference leadership makes in the workplace is amazing. Take two identical organizations with the same pay, benefits, work, and product — give one an open-minded leadership team, and the other, commanding managers — and the difference would be night and day. Which management helps employees reach their potential?

Characteristics of Leaders

• Listening attentively with an open-mind, offering advice, and using employee suggestions whenever possible.

Leading by example. This doesn’t mean leaders do their employees’ job. It’s about how they go about any job, how they treat others, and their business ethics.

Putting others above themselves. To lead is to serve. Leaders seldom point fingers or attach blame to individuals. They look for answers. Leaders understand failure is a path to success.

Sharing a vision, giving direction, and setting goals. Part of what makes any leader attractive is their ability to steer the course and their confidence to pull the team along with them.

Being honest and consistent. They don’t always treat people equally, but they always treat people equitably. They may change plans or adjust a goal, but they always maintain the same core values.

Characteristics of Commanders

Micro-managing — they’re afraid to delegate for fear tasks won’t be done to their standards. It’s hard work to train someone to take delegation, but it’s hard work that pays off.

Attempting to bully people into completing tasks with threats and fear. This may work occasionally, but in the long run, it’s counterproductive.

Not listening. It’s my way or the highway. They expect direct reports to blindly follow orders, stifling creativity.

Doing as I say, not as I do. They expect others to follow their rules of order, but place themselves above it. They’ve “earned” it.

They expect everyone to be motivated by the same things. Employees who don’t think like the commander probably won’t get what they need to be stimulated at work.

Is someone commanding you at work and just giving orders, or are they leading by giving you direction? Which boss do you have? Or is your leadership team a combination? Do you work WITH someone or FOR them?

I’d like to leave you with the thoughts of a few friends about leadership. I crowd sourced the following question on my Facebook page:

“From your experience, what characteristics and activities make for good, effective leadership?”

Listening skills.
—Amy Stark

listening, compassion, and being fair.
—Mary Warrick

Organization vs the pretension of organization.
—Jarred Juett

Good effective leadership — understand who you’re leading, personality traits, communication styles, etc. Ineffective – re-acting vs. being proactive.
—Joe Noorthoek

The desire and ability to lead through service.
—Don Kincaid

Constant ego checks. Never let yourself work against others.
—Timmy Greenlee

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