Boss, Manager, or Leader: Which Will You Be?

In over twenty years of retail sales, management, and service I have had many bosses that I liked. Many managers that I respected. And only a few that I liked and respected. What sets them apart?

First my own experience. I started my career as a janitor and after one especially frustrating night I said ” Screw this I’m going to Safeway”. I had many family members including my brother who worked there. I literally started at the bottom as a floor clerk. After 3 years I went to checker school and ended up on the Night Crew. And because nobody wanted the job I quickly became the back-up crew leader. Here’s where the BIGGEST mistake you can ever make comes in. On a few days I am one of the guys (Their Friend) and the others I was their boss. So whenever someone called in sick or didn’t want to do something or whatever else came up. Mister Nice Guy caved in.

Flash forward to many years later I get hired as Head Clerk for Cost Plus Imports. I read Zig Ziglars Top Performance on the plane there and thought I knew it all. Don’t get me wrong it is an incredible book and started me on a 20+ year love of personal development. But here I was with 11 yrs grocery experience going in an import store.Here’s another important lesson. Find out how and why things work before making changes. And once again Mr Nice Guy started to show up.

But didn’t I say in the beginning a rare quality is to be liked? Ah but I said Liked and respected. How much do they really respect you if they know they can walk all over you? You can be liked and respected IF… You are a Leader.

A Boss may tell you what to do. A Manager may show the most efficient way to do it. But a Leader makes you want to do it. To achieve this you MUST lead by example. Not by doing everything better than everyone else. I was told you can be a Super Worker or a Supervisor. A good illustration is the conductor of an orchestra. I remember in grade school band class the teacher knew how to play every instrument better than the students BUT He didn’t get down in the pit and play. No he drew the music out of them.

An effective leader trains and trust his team. By displaying confidence in their ability to get the job done you develop stewardship. By doing this you can devote yourself to growing the business. And developing other leaders. The ultimate goal of any leader is to train someone to take your position. Or rather to push you up.

If you are just getting started my advice to you is Read , Learn, Observe, and model great leaders. Be a nice Guy. Never ever say “That’s not my job”. Develop and maintain integrity which leads to respect. If your people know you will do anything for them They will do anything for you. And you Will be on that short list of those both liked and respected.

Hopefully I just saved you many years of Error and Error.