Notes from February 25th, 2014

It has been very pleasing to me to have learnt from quite experienced people. Even though at some point in my short career I was more noisy than I would like to admit, I had tried to listen anyways.

I’ve been talking a lot regarding leaders versus bosses, and what values I like to see in them. It seems often accepted that, at some point in the hierarchy of a company, certain roles must be fulfilled by the boss type. Furthermore, it seems that every ambitious start-up will convert eventually into a corporation in its life cycle.

Someone tought me a rule which says something like: “If you want to become a leader, you will then be a boss. But if you don’t want to become a leader, and you do have the capabilities, the social context will raise you as a leader.” At first I didn’t want to believe it, then I understood it made sense.

Expectations from both parties (leaders and leadered) could generate some confussion and even misunderstanding. You might wonder why, and I feel it’s related to the selfish human nature. One could be put in a position where not trying to be objective will generate more conflicts. And who’s responsibility is that? I blame the leader.

A leader should be an example

They need to be motivational and generate enthusiasm while being problem solvers. They must take the responsibility of defeats and share the responsibility on victories. A leader should try to stay possitive, try to never transfer the pressure put on him/her to his/her team.

There are a lot of differences in how the team is treated. Specially considering the team not as “employees” but as people, coworkers, peers. Coaching should be a native skill, whereas patience needs to be trained always. A leader can -and will- learn from anyone, a boss will not accept it that easy.

It has nothing to do with introversion / extroversion. You could be either boss or leader disregarding if you’re outgoing. Although I think words must be chosen carefully, as the language is the main piece in communication. And it is required to have good communication (soft) skills for teaching, developing people. So instead of “I,” she/he should use “we” – but that isn’t enough condition, it is just one more of the necessary for a leader to be good.

In my opinion, it is more related to doing rather than to saying. But the how is important as well. For example, pushing your team to get the best out of everyone might vary on each person, even for people with the same job title. Providing help on the work-life balance also helps. And it could be really good to be proactive instead of reactive to requests (e.g., giving salary increments when a member deserves it, before he/she requests it.)

I believe business and strategic vision is as important as leadership skills. Leaders on C-level positions (or alike) generate a productivity which a boss could never get. That translates into successful companies. And happy employees too.

I may be wrong in some statements written down above, but I would like to thank to all those who ever mentored me, specially Andrés, Carlos, Jerónimo and Mauro.