3 Ways to Be a Better Leader While Also Being a Boss Jonathan Herrick When you run your own business, you’re ultimately the one in charge. But if you think of yourself as a boss there to bark orders to your minions, it will be hard to lead effectively and gain the respect of your team. Looking at yourself as coach or mentor to your employees will ultimately bring you better results in today’s workplace than taking a traditional, top-down approach to management. The truth is, most industries are changing so quickly because of the digital revolution that we all need to learn from each other. If you’re caught up in letting your employees know that you are the boss day in and day out, it will be hard to work effectively with your team in today’s workplace. Simon Sinek says it best: “Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge.” Here are three ideas on how to be a better leader while also being a boss. Get to know your team. No matter how busy you are, setting aside 10 or 15 minutes a day for “management by walking around” is an investment that will pay incredible dividends. Ask employees, “What’s on your mind?” or “Is there anything I can help with?” You’ll find by engaging in your employees’ lives daily, it’s much easier to anticipate opportunities and stay in front of potential problems. Take time to get to know your employees outside of the office too. Informal settings, like a team picnic or team lunch, can go a long way to finding out about what they enjoy doing outside of work in a casual environment where everyone is relaxed. You may just discover your team members have hidden talents—whether that’s making funny online videos, creative writing, or raising money for charity. In today’s collaborative work environment people are looking for more than just a paycheck at work. They are looking to make an impact on the business and letting them use their areas of giftedness in workplace with will inspire greatness. Put yourself on mute. Do a small experiment. The next time you have a phone conversation, push the mute button every time the person on the other end is talking. Wait a beat before you jump in with your response to what they’re saying. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn when you listen for just a little longer. This can be a great approach when you’re trying to solve a problem. Let’s say you run a manufacturing business, and the production lines are moving too slowly. Instead of staying up nights dreaming up new rules and processes to get the line moving more quickly, ask team members for their input in one-on-one conversations. What would they do to fix the situation? Give them time to answer instead of jumping in with your observations and ideas. You’ll be surprised at this bottom-up approach and how many problems they will solve for you if you ask questions, then give them time to share ideas. The same holds true for ideas for growing your business. Not sure how to do Facebook marketing? An employee on your team who uses Facebook a lot might have some good ideas for you. Wondering what type of incentive program to introduce to reward star performers? Ask your team. Take a lesson from your best teachers. The earliest leaders in most of our lives were our teachers. Think back to the great ones—those who left a lasting impression on your life—and how they managed their classrooms. They didn’t stand in front of the class droning on. They engaged everyone in the room, and probably in different ways—understanding that what got the aspiring doctor excited about science may have been different than what inspired the future musician. That servant leadership approach works very well in managing employees. While you may want members of your team to do their jobs as you’ve trained them, tailoring your leadership style a bit to each individual will pay off. Some people may need you to give them a lot of direction, while others will be more self-motivated. Being sensitive to that and adjusting your approach will usually lead to better performance. There may be times where you don’t have that luxury and you all have to simply roll up your sleeves and get things done. However, if you do take the time to fine-tune your leadership style, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to inspire employees to execute on your vision—and help you achieve the business results you desire.