6 Tips On How to Be the Boss Without Being Bossy

Being a better leader isn’t just a way to increase your likability — it can boost productivity and revenue.

two employees collaborating
Recognize what bossiness is and combat it with these tips

“Being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” -Tina Fey

We’ve all had bosses in our lives that we haven’t particularly liked for one reason or another. Maybe your first boss was always late and then lectured you when you were 5 minutes late one time. Or perhaps your current boss likes to micromanage every project you are assigned to even though you have worked for the company for 10 years. The reality is good bosses are a rare breed, almost like the unicorns of the workplace.

Bossiness is one of the most common traits of bad bosses and can drive even the most loyal employees out the door. Being bossy involves talking at your employees instead of to them, firing out commands, and not allowing direct reports to have any opinion or say in decisions. This behavior is detrimental to workplace culture and can lead to high turnover, which is costly to companies. Though bad bosses are a dime a dozen, most of them are not trying to be bad. More often than not, bosses are doing their best and are unaware that they are rubbing their direct reports the wrong way.

Happy employees are simply better workers, which benefits the entire organization as a whole.

Being a better boss isn’t just a way to get people to like you; it can actually increase productivity and revenue. Happy employees are simply better workers, which benefits the entire organization as a whole. Here’s how to get there.

  1. Embrace the team mentality. Often, bosses become bossy because they view their role as above, or more important than, their team members. To counteract this mindset, it can help bosses to remember that the company is a team, and everyone is working together to reach a common goal.
  2. Practice gratitude. It’s amazing how powerful a simple “thank you” can be. Many companies spend thousands of dollars on employee holiday gifts, which often can feel forced and hollow. Make sure to acknowledge when an employee has done well with a “thank you,” “well done,” or “bravo.” It’s free and far more impactful.
  3. Step back. Many times, bosses do not know how to let their employees take the wheel. They don’t like to give up control and fear something may go wrong if they relinquish essential duties. However, this constant control only leads to a burned-out boss and stagnant employees. Train your employees well and stand back while they do their job. If they make a mistake, they will learn from it and do better the next time.
  4. Leave the door open. Effective communication between employees and bosses can lead to a reduction in stress. Have an open-door policy to encourage employees to bring their challenges and issues directly to you when they happen. This allows for fires to be put out before they spread. Additionally, an open-door policy allows for the workplace to feel more collaborative rather than authoritarian.
  5. Delegate authority. Bad bosses give out tasks to their workers while effective bosses give out authority instead. Hire the right people and empower them to make decisions without you there. It saves you time, builds confidence, and creates a feeling of trust in the workplace. Plus, when you hire the best talent any anxiety about passing the torch should fade away.
  6. Look inward. A great boss needs humility. Acknowledge that you, too, are human and have weaknesses. Acting like you know it all makes employees feel intimidated and less likely to relate to you. Instead, be transparent about the fact that you aren’t great at small talk or struggle with articulating yourself via email. The more your employees know about you, the better.

Hire the right people and empower them to make decisions without you there. It saves you time, builds confidence, and creates a feeling of trust in the workplace.

Bad bosses are all too common in the workplace. In fact, 1 in 5 people dislikes their boss. That’s 20% of the workforce. While the reason for this discontentment varies, more often than not there is a lack of trust, recognition, and respect between employees and their superiors. Bossiness in particular, is a surefire way to drive away good employees. Firing out orders like a drill sergeant is not going to encourage employees to be happy and productive.

There are several ways to combat bossiness like:

  • Embracing a team mentality
  • Showing appreciation towards direct reports
  • Eliminating micromanagement
  • Having an open-door communication policy
  • Delegating authority
  • Practicing humility

Each of these 6 tips can help transform the relationship between employee and boss leading to a happier, more productive workplace.

Steve Jobs said it best …

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

― Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs: His Own Words and Wisdom

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