Adapting To The Role Of 'The Boss'

For many years I have had the opportunity to teach leadership skills and consult with those in leadership positions. I’ve also had the chance to run several businesses of my own and have learned some interesting lessons along the way. One of the key areas where leaders find challenges is in understanding that there are inherent differences in being part of management vs. being a rank and file worker bee. Here are a few of the pitfalls of not fully embracing the role.

Being one of the gang

Wanting to be part of the “gang” is something that many managers – especially those new to management – think is an important goal to achieve. They are out to prove the role they now have has not gone to their head; they are the same person they used to be. The truth of the matter is, as a member of the management team, you are different and will be perceived that way by those who report to you.

You now have influence on their employment status and that matters to them.  If you are viewed as the same old person you were before you became a manager, you have lost your ability to perform your new role. Your job is to lead others and help them be successful, not just get a particular job done. Leaders don’t just do work, they help others accomplish their work. Even in the car pool, on the golf course or at home, you still represent the company.

I’m not saying you have to dissolve your friendship with those that report to you, far from it. But understand you need to earn the respect needed for the position you have, and that matters more than being one of the gang.

Micromanagement vs. no management

The micromanagerOften leaders do not want to be perceived as a micromanager and so they let their people have free reign to do their jobs, only stepping in when problems arise. This approach has many flaws.
For starters, employees need boundaries. Boundaries do not constrict. Rather, they keep people from stepping out beyond their role and encroaching on someone else’s domain.
Leaders see a larger picture than individual contributors and understand how each person’s role must fit within the overall objectives. Boundaries also bring success.
There is no way a person knows if they are meeting expectations if no expectations or goals have been set. A person’s success is defined by meeting goals set by their leader.
With boundaries clearly defined and goals clearly set, to avoid micromanagement let each person have control over how they reach those goals so long as their choices do not interfere with the work of others.
No one likes to be told what to do every step of the way. We all want to use our expertise to contribute and feel like we’ve made a difference. Leaders facilitate the efforts of their people to help them be successful, they don’t critique every little step along the way.

Consequences for actions

It is critical that people understand the consequences of their actions and they need to know those consequences up front. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a person lose their job and the first they heard about the trouble they were in was when they were handed their pink slip. That is the fault of the leader. Before given any tasks, people should know what they can expect if they accomplish the tasks well and what they can expect if they do not.
If they could be fired for failing to accomplish a task, they should know that. Don’t dwell on the negative however. Focus on the positives they will receive for a job well done. People need to know that they have two paths to choose from, and if they choose a path that may even lead to termination that is a choice they make, you will simply be the one implementing the results of their decision.
Great leaders spend most of their time dealing with very positive situations. That’s because they are involved up front with their people and focus more on rewarding success rather than looking for problems. Being a leader is different from being a team member, but done correctly those differences are vital to the success of each individual.

Featured images:

License: Royalty Free or iStock
License: Royalty Free or iStock source:
Barry Phillips is an expert in business development, marketing, presentation skills and leadership, with over 25 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and business leader. He is the co-founder and partner in Tracy Learning L.L.C. a leader in professional development training and consulting. He is also a published author, corporate trainer and facilitator. If you are interested in leadership skills training you can visit