Sorry Springsteen fans, he isn’t The Boss I’m talking about. This is nonetheless a slight tangent from my usual post topics. A Facebook post I shared this past week brought to light a topic I have been thinking about for a while and I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore it further. Bear with me for a bit and I’ll bring it back around.
The boss is known by many titles: owner, manager, supervisor, crew chief, team lead and so on. Unless you work for yourself, it’s the person you work for. The leader on the other hand is the one who leads or commands others. Is there a distinction? I say there is. While a boss may be a leader, the leader doesn’t necessarily have to be the boss.
Workplace bosses may or may not be person we want to work for. They may just be the person who has been there the longest, had the right connections or was in the right place at the right time to get the job. Managing other workers or operations isn’t always the career path people want. Some get tossed into it with hopes they’ll be able to make it work. Some absolutely excel while others do not. Often times the only choice for unhappy employees is to go elsewhere.
If it sounds like I’m being hard on the boss, I am. It’s an extraordinarily difficult job and not everyone is cut out for it. It’s a lot more than policies, processes, procedures and catch phrases. I’ve always contended that managing mechanical, technical or other ‘things’ is easy, it’s the human part of the job that is difficult. Like many people, I’ve been on both sides of the equation and have seen the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.
Leaders on the other hand tend to be those we make a conscious decision to be with. In employment, we gravitate towards or stay with those we see as leaders with a vision we share. Leaders take the time to understand motivation and how it relates to individual and group success. They are fiercely protective of those they lead and are often more critical of their own abilities than of those around them.
Leadership skills, just like management skills, can be taught, trained, nurtured and grown. However just as wealth, stature, family or association does not equal success; education, training and experience don’t make one successful either. There is that something extra, that personal secret sauce an individual brings with them that determines the outcome.
Leadership is also very situational dependent. The individual contributor in one situation may be the leader in the next. Each of us has times we lead as well as times we follow. And not every situation demands a strong and dynamic leader to be successful. Standing in the produce section of your local market with a dory yelling THIS IS SPARTA!! isn’t going to get you extra discounts at checkout. There is also one of my favorite leadership quotes: “You know what they call a leader with no followers? Just a guy talking a walk.”
So why is this pertinent? This is an election year and a lot is riding on our vote. Our next President will shape national and foreign policy as well as determine the balance of the Supreme Court for at least the next generation to come. The results could very well gut the protections we now enjoy under the Bill of Rights. Elements of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments could be dramatically reinterpreted or revoked in totality in the name of progress towards a self-serving political agenda.
Our votes will decide who sits in the President’s chair as well as many other critical matters on Election Day. We can choose the leader we want to follow, or the boss we have no choice but to follow.
#oddstuffing, #thebossvstheleader, #leadership, #2016elections, #billofrights, #bornintheusa