January 18, 2018

Being the boss isn’t the same as leading

Three people around a computerJust because you can tell someone what to do doesn’t mean you should, or that it’s the best option.

In most situations, probably, you’ll be right—the one in the know, the one with the insight to see the correct course of action, the one with the relevant experience.

But not always…

Sometimes it’ll be one of the team who has the right idea.

And that’s where we see the difference between a boss and a leader: The “boss” asserts their authority, really in insecurity, and insists on their point of view being adopted; whereas the leader has the strength and self-confidence to accept the alternative idea—to admit they may have been wrong, even.

And that’s empowering. It encourages creativity and innovation and leads to advantage.

Over the long haul, the leader and the team will beat the boss and the subordinates.

Which are you: A boss or a leader?

Broad or precise?

Group discussionBroad or precise, which do you prefer?

Possibly (but not necessarily) because I’m engineer, I generally regard precision (and the requisite level of detail) as an unmitigated good thing. Not everyone has the same preference of course.

It is quite striking (to me, that is) how some people seem to like an approach to a subject that is really quite broad. To those that unconsciously prefer more precision and structure such an approach can seem really rather woolly, and it’s hard to understand the choice.

But, of course, from the perspective of those who are comfortable with a certain fuzziness in the interest of a more general view, too much structure and precision can be distinctly suffocating.

In fact, of course, it takes all sorts.

The thing is…

Which do you prefer—the broad or the precise?

And what about the people you are dealing with?

Individuals may divide more sharply into the two categories than we realise and the one is rather unfathomable to the other. That’s because these patterns of filtering are largely unconscious.

The question then is how to adapt to a person’s preference, which, by the way, they probably aren’t aware of.

All rather significant in many contexts.