How to Be Boss Without Being Bossy

Dear Shi, 

        I’m starting to expand my team as I grow my business and really stepping into my confidence as a leader.  I’m really great at the “soft skills” like building relationships and rapport with my team members so they trust me, but I have trouble when it comes to “laying down the law” on expectations, deadlines, and overall getting things down in a way that lets them know I’m their boss, without being bossy.  I want to create a culture where people are valued and love their work, but also communicate that we are here to do meaningful work.  How can I encourage my team members to take ownership and responsibility and “lead” them, instead of “manage” them? 


Dear Nicole, 

         What an amazing opportunity you have to be able to create your company culture by shaping the way you build and lead your team members.  You have the ability to set the example and set the expectations of what your company stands for, and the kind of work you put out into the world, by leading the people who’s helping you with your mission. 

Let’s flip the perspective and see things from your team members side.  If you were to work for yourself as a boss, what would you need in order to flourish in the work place? 

As an employee...

You want to be valued for your gifts.  You want clear expectations, guidelines, but also freedom and flexibility for you to put your own twist on your work.  You want accountability and excellent standards, and feedback to know that you’re doing a great job, and what you can improve. 

As an employer...

In order to meet these needs, there are a few things to consider.  First, is the heart — Belief that you matter, and your work matters.  

Hire according to people’s talents and potential.  Communicating their role within your company and how they directly impact the mission with their unique gifts.  For example, the digital marketer isn’t just posting Facebook images, they are educating and impacting people on how your services will help them.  The virtual assistant isn’t just scheduling appointments, she’s the extension of customer service and connecting people to you.  The intern isn’t just there for unpaid work, she's there fill missing piece to delivering the goods to the customer. 

Another principle to consider is that your employees want to be challenged to know you can do your best.  

Set an example of excellence my modeling your company’s standards and values.  Knowing what you are specially responsible for versus what your employee’s responsible for while help you lead by example while empowering your employee take ownership of their responsibility. 

Remember to communicate expectations with your employee.  Don't forget to celebrate wins, check in on their progress, and coach them on areas of growth.

I also believe that Great Leaders Are Also Great Coaches.   

By having regular check-ins on what quarterly, monthly, weekly goals and current projects, you can check a pulse on what's going on.
Asking questions like: What have they accomplished?  What are their challenges?  How are they overcoming them?  What kind of help do they need?  

Finally, I want to leave you with this thought...what's the difference between a leader and a manager?

Leaders inspire people at the higher-level.  
Managers oversee the details.  
Both are important.  So walking people through the bigger mission of the company AND the day-to-day details will help you to create the company cohesion that you're wanting.  

So, your action step is...

1. Identify what part of this process do you find most frustrating?  
2. Pinpoint a strategy for you to be able to work it out.  

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With Joy,