Be a Leader not a BossI have always believed in the power of business culture – to not just set the direction of your company but to accelerate results, improve decision making and drive performance. If you can get your culture right it will set the foundations for your success. So I was interested to think through Geoffrey James’ article on the 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses.

This is a great article, covering some of the key principles of management – from an understanding of business through to team motivation and change. Geoffrey’s approach calls out the distinction between an “average boss” and an “extraordinary boss” – identifying eight core beliefs that differentiates one from the other. And while I can’t quibble with the distinctions he makes – I’d like to think we could take this distinction further. Rather than thinking about the notion of a “boss” or a “manager” – let’s reframe our role in the guise of the “leader” and let’s test each item against business culture.

Imagine a world where:

  • Business takes place as a process of collaboration between your customers, partners and suppliers
  • Your company, your teams and peers connect as though a tribe
  • Management simply provides a platform which handles the transactions of business while unleashing your creativity
  • Your employees are not only considered peers, but responsible and empowered leaders
  • Fear and even vision are overcome by purpose
  • Change is itself seen as the precondition for innovation and reinvention
  • Technology changes not just the way we do business but our reasons for doing business
  • Work not only contributes to our sense of wellbeing, but inspires us in a virtuous process
Average Boss Extraordinary Boss Culture
Business as Battlefield Business as Ecosystem Business as Collaboration
Company as Machine Company as Community Company as Connection
Management as Control Management as Service Management as Platform
Employees as Children Employees as Peers Employees as Leaders
Motivate by Fear Motivate by Vision Motivate by Purpose
Change is Pain Change is Growth Change is Innovation
Technology Automates Technology Empowers Technology Transforms
Work is Toil Work is Fun Work is Inspiration


But why, you may ask is this important? Eric Jackson suggests that it’s not just a company’s leadership that impacts its longevity – but its DNA. Take a moment to read his explanation of why Google and Facebook might completely disappear in the next five years. And if each company’s DNA is set at its inception then we cannot simply rely on restructuring or innovation to ensure we remain relevant to our markets, useful to our customers and vital for our employees. We need to reinvent, out-think and re-imagine what it means to be in business in this changing world. And the only way to do this is to be a leader, not a boss.

Nina Nets It Out: We can’t achieve different outcomes by following the same path over and over – for even our businesses choose to stand still, our customers constantly evolve. The only choice for the leader is to innovate – to seek new outcomes for new markets and new conditions. The question is – “are you ready to be a leader”?

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: European Parliament via Compfight