One challenge many business owners don’t feel prepared for when they come to it is managing others. Parts of leadership can come naturally, while others must be taught and learned over time.
When someone suddenly finds themselves in the position of leadership, they privately wonder what kind of boss they should be.
“Should I be a friendly boss that everyone loves to be around? Should I be a serious boss that keeps my employees in line?” It can feel like we have to make the decision between being a friendly or serious boss.
Should you be a friendly or serious boss?
Should you be a friendly or serious boss? Experts say you don’t have to decide.
By implementing proven leadership techniques, you can achieve a healthy balance of the two to create the best workplace dynamic possible. Employees appreciate friendliness, but being a “friendly boss” can often turn into becoming a doormat boss. Employees respect serious bosses who keep them on track and always have a plan, but being too serious can damage workplace relationships and cause high employee turnover rates.
Here’s how to balance being friendly and serious in leadership so you can be an effective boss.
1. Know your limits.
Creating boundaries is hard for many people, especially if we’re friendly folks that enjoy laughing and joking with others. But if you’re not careful to set limits on your interactions with your employees, you can erode the leadership position you’re in. If you join employees in office gossip or consistently allow them to get away with unacceptable workplace behaviors, you’ve lost any authority you started out with.
Establishing clear boundaries – like “I will not engage in office gossip” – is the first step in balancing your leadership.
2. Pick your battles.
For those of us who admit to perfectionist tendencies, being the boss comes with a entirely different set of problems. It’s hard to see something done incorrectly when we know we could’ve done it properly. It’s hard to let pet peeves slide. But in leadership, it’s important to pick your battles. Will admonishing an employee for a small offense really make a positive difference, or will it just erode the relationships you’re trying to build?
Some issues can’t be avoided, but for those that can, let sleeping dogs lie.
3. Use your example.
As the owner and boss, you have a tremendous position of authority and because of that, an opportunity to set a great example. Using your own behavior to model your company’s mission and values to your employees will go a long way. If you say one thing and do another, your employees learn they can’t trust what you say. They might begin to resent you for being hypocritical.
Use your own example to show employees how you want people to treat each other in your workplace, and they’ll be more likely to follow suit.
4. Study servant leadership.
Servant leadership is such a valuable concept for anyone in a leadership position to learn. Even those who aren’t religious can identify with a prime example of servant leadership: Jesus of Nazareth. He lived to serve others, even those that disagreed with him and wanted him dead. He displayed meekness and humbleness in the face of persecution.
While it’s an extreme example, learning to lead like a servant – by jumping in and offering to help your employees so they can do their best – is a powerful way to balance your leadership. You can learn more about servant leadership and ways to start acting on it here.