When it comes to discussing today’s job force and environment, people tend to focus on Millennials and the different ways in which they work. There is much conversation regarding work ethic, entitlement, and general opinions.
But the truth is that the job force has undergone plenty of changes, one of which surrounds the idea of “The Boss.” No longer is the man in charge an illusive figure-head in the corner office. In fact, the boss isn’t always a man. More so, the idea of giving orders and simply being the one who delegates has been replaced by a more collaborative approach – the idea of a Leader, rather than a Boss.
So how to be a leader?
A true leader opens up communication with their members.
The idea of being able to collaborate with a leader and feel they truly have an “open door policy” is not just a hip thought, it’s a helpful one. Studies show that when employees voice their concerns freely, organizations see increased retention and stronger performance.
Unfortunately though, if people are working beneath a leader who induces fear of speaking out or working together, employees become afraid to speak up and instead find ways to justify their silence. This only makes things worse. Sure, HR exists to help employees speak up when they feel like they can’t, but if you’re encouraged to make suggestions anonymously, doesn’t that just enforce the idea that it isn’t safe to speak up openly?
If you happen to be the leader, you may be thinking you don’t fall into this category of scary bosses because your employees come to you; you are already serving as a cooperative leader and not a dictator. But the truth is that despite the issues your employees may come to you with, there may still be a handful they don’t feel comfortable bringing to you.
Instead of becoming the leader you want to be, be what your team needs.
Thankfully, there are ways to change your habits when it comes to being the leader your team needs you to be. And if you aren’t a manager or a boss, you can still try to find ways to incorporate these things into your daily actions to inspire your boss to follow suite.
“Very few managers are leaders . The difference between the two? A manager is someone who has people reporting to him. A leader is someone who people will follow, even if they don’t report to him. What separates the two is the trust and respect of his people.” – Ekaterina Walter
The following sections will highlight the behaviors needed to display to your team that you are truly a leader who wants to stand beside your team, not just give the commands.
Show your team you’re human.
It’s 100% okay to make mistakes. You’re only human. It’s 110% okay to admit to those mistakes when you realize them. When you admit you were wrong or that you are not satisfied with something you did, it doesn’t make you look weak, or like you aren’t worthy of your position in the company. In fact, it shows your team how strong you are and how much you trust them.
“Build a team around you that complements you – and each other – in knowledge, skill sets, and capabilities. Don’t try to do everything. Let your team members drive certain projects and outcomes. That will make them feel valued and will make you look good. But always have their back when something doesn’t go according to plan.” – Ekaterina Walter 
Utilize each team member’s talent.
You hired everyone on your team because you knew they were the right fit for the job. This meant you accepted that they were capable and willing. If you want your team to trust you, then you need to trust them. When you’re trying to be one with your team, it can become difficult to delegate, because you don’t want them to think you’re being too bossy…but you are the boss.
Being a leader just means you have leadership traits and you’re respected and followed. It doesn’t mean you have to be the “cool boss”  who does all the work and lets the employees slack off.
Be fair to everyone no matter what.
Every company has policy and procedures, and there’s a reason they are rules, not suggestions. Working as a team and respecting each other also means the employees respect the rules. Again, if you are leading by example, this will most likely not be an issue. But if you do notice someone foregoing the dress code or not arriving to work on time, don’t allow it to become a habit.
Separate friendship and professionalism.
When you are a leader rather than a boss, you may find yourself having casual conversations with your team. While this is excellent and helps to build trust, it’s important to know when to separate friendship and professionalism. If an employee does something wrong or something which negatively impacts the businesses, don’t assume you can approach them in front of the team simply because you all get along. Know when to have conversations behind closed doors.
Remember, your team needs you and you need your team too.
Even if you feel you already do everything you can to be respected and appreciated, sit back and truly reflect on whether that’s true. There is always room for improvement. After all, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t need that team of yours.