Be a Leader, Not a Boss: PartnerPath Offers 5 Tips

These tips from PartnerPath can help transform you from a boss to a leader.

Lynn Haber

March 8, 2018

5 Min Read


Lynn Haber

Not everyone is cut out to be a boss and not everyone who is a boss makes the grade. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it and if you’re the one, there’s always room for improvement. For digital-service providers coping with a shortage of skilled IT professionals, research shows people join companies because of their mission and goals, but frequently leave them because of their bosses. Ouch.

Carol Giles Neslund, who last month joined PartnerPath as a principal, this week introduced herself to the company’s audience as the featured speaker on the “5 Ways to Be a Better Boss” webinar. She offered actionable ideas to help leaders and their teams be successful.

“It really boils down to this — if you want to be a better boss, be a leader, not a boss,” Neslund said. “Help your team succeed by engaging them in their work, tapping into their energy and enthusiasm for their work and for working together, and be sure that you’re energizing them and helping them understand how they can achieve and be successful in their job.”


PartnerPath’s Carol Giles Neslund

According to the oft-cited 201 Interact Report, the worst boss offenses are: not recognizing employee achievements (63 percent), not giving clear directions (57 percent), not having time to meet with employees (52 percent), refusing to talk to subordinates (51 percent), taking credit for others’ ideas (47 percent), not offering constructive criticism (39 percent), not knowing employees’ names (36 percent), refusing to talk to people on the phone/in person (34 percent), and not asking about employees’ lives outside of work (23 percent).

By contrast, here’s what leaders know how to do: communicate clear and consistent expectations; coach their teams with helpful feedback on how to succeed; demonstrate respect and express appreciation; manage consistently to get expected results; and leverage influence and power productively.

Neslund then took a deeper dive into the five ways to be a better boss, beginning with “communicate clearly and often.” That begins with having a vision for your team and being able to clarify how their work contributes to the company’s success. Another point she made is to set performance expectations that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely). Finally, a boss should be held accountable to same expectations he or she has for the team — in other words, walk the talk.

“The top performer tip for communicating clearly and often with your team is to establish a regular cadence for communicating with them,” she said. “The idea of this weekly one-on-one is to keep on top of important but not necessarily urgent matters.”

What does it mean to coach your team for success? According to Neslund, it’s about balancing positive and constructive feedback; making sure that your team has the skills, motivation and understands the urgency of …

… the work; finally, not micromanaging your top performers.

On the topic of positive and constructive feedback, Neslund had recommendations.

“When you’re praising good work, do it in a public setting such as recognizing good work in a team meeting so other people can hear and see what good work looks like,” Neslund said.

Conversely, don’t criticize an employee in public.

“Constructive feedback should be given privately,” she added.

The top performer tip for coaching your team for success: Use the situation-behavior-impact approach, a quick way to think about how to frame your feed.

Demonstrating respect and appreciation could be as simple as saying thank you.

“This says it all. It’s so obvious yet so overlooked,” Neslund said.

A couple of other pointers: Demonstrate respect and appreciation, recognize and celebrate success, and be respectful that people have lives outside of work.

Learning what motivates the members of your team is the top performer tip for demonstrating respect and appreciation.

“If you can understand what motivates them, you’ll be able to give them assignments that they find motivating and will bring their best energy to,” said Neslund.

The fourth way to be a better boss is to manage consistently and fairly — and that means overcoming your tendency to have favorites. Work on being impartial and consistent with everyone. That also goes for allocating opportunities, recommendations and rewards. Be sure to communicate any decisions to change course. At the same time, it’s critical to manage poor performance.

“One of the biggest stressors on a team, one of the things that kills productivity and employee morale most quickly, is having a poor performer or cynical person … who drags down the performance and attitude of the team,” Neslund pointed out. “It sets the wrong tone for the team when you don’t actively address those poor performers or cynics …”

Addressing poor performers is the top performer tip for managing consistently and fairly.

Finally, the last recommendation to be a better boss is about leveraging your power and influence to help your team succeed. In other works, use it productively. Neslund calls this “positive politics if done well.”

“Use this power and influence to make sure the team isn’t being overloaded when compared to other teams, or falsely blamed for things going wrong,” she said. “What you want to do with the power and influence that you have in the organization is to make sure that your team is recognized for the good work that it’s doing and that your team can be left alone to do its work successfully.”

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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