Monthly Archives: June 2015

You Don’t Have to Be “Bossy” to Be the Boss

Figuring out how to get people to relate easily and naturally to the things you want them to do is a key leadership skill.

I have worked on this skill in particular, as I often have to rely on my influence rather than accessing authority directly. My goal is to mould the people around me, so they can develop their own ideas and run forward without my assistance.

This empowerment is the best way because, when people sit around and wait for someone to tell them what to do, it’s less effective, their leaders burn out, and the people themselves are less happy in their jobs.

But do people find me bossy? It’s been years since I worried about this, but I notice the fear in colleagues who are experimenting with formal leadership for the first time.

Authority is a cloak that you can choose to wear very lightly. Certainly as a beginning leader, you can frame your contribution in terms of service to others, which is more comfortable for most people.

(1) The right thing is to set a target and then step back and let people figure out how to get there themselves, supporting them as required but never taking back the responsibility

(2) The right thing is to receive roadblocks as a chance to help colleagues improve their own skills and perspectives, and to learn from them in return – and people will love it when they see you listening to them!

Neither of those needs to involve you being bossy. :-)

Breaking Conventions: Marker Mayhem

I was playing with a new whiteboard marker in a meeting the other day, when the guy next to me suddenly frowned at it, clearly disgusted. (I’ll call him Ted, because that’s his name.)

I’d never thought about this, but traditionally the barrel of a whiteboard pen is white, and the barrel of a regular pen is anything else (usually the color of the ink).

whiteboard flipchart

I “knew” this, though I’d never specifically noticed.

The new whiteboard marker was a real skookum little unit, with a magnet and an eraser tip, and a non-rolling body in a fashionable black.

But as a leader who frequently uses a whiteboard and a flip chart at the same time, Ted was not pleased!