Most of us at some point in our careers will have people reporting in to us. Having a successful people management experience is considered essential and rather valuable prerequisite towards securing a sustained managerial career. Managing and leading people is a great responsibility, not only because companies need good managers to run businesses smoothly, but also because the careers and livelihoods of the employees are in the hands of the managers. Managers who are leaders in their work style can significantly enrich their people’s careers, verses those who are merely bosses can, to certain extent, ruin it. Bosses demand respect, leaders command it

Here are 10 things that distinguish you, the Leader, from a Boss

1. Be good with your people because you care, not because management guru advised you to

All leadership courses emphasize on communicating effectively with the employees to show that you care for them. Not to say that the showing part is not important, it is obviously very important, however, your body language speaks louder than your words. Be compassionate with your people because that is the right thing to do. When you fake compassion it shows right through. They can tell if you genuinely care for them or not. Managers who fake compassion with their employees generally fake loyalty with their bosses too. Fake compassion is worse than genuine apathy

2. Delegate success, own failures

Let your team know that you have their back. Empower them to be creative, to take decisions, and to make mistakes. Let them learn from it and be better as a result. Tell them that they own their successes and you own their failures

3. Feel genuine pleasure in seeing your people grow

Just like you cherish seeing your children grow into strong, successful and respected adults, take pride and pleasure in witnessing your people grow into successful and respected professionals. This feeling comes only when you sincerely guide and help the junior employees through the hurdles that you have already crossed, most probably, with someone else’s help. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that someone is a better professional because of you

4. Make the human connection

Try to put yourself in their shoes. Once you were a junior player too. Think about what they are going through. Know their needs, fears, worries, desires, pleasures and concerns. Get to know them as living and breathing spirits, not just as your subordinates. It is easier to connect with them if you know their families, their likes and dislikes. Sure, it is not always possible, especially if there are many people in your people or if they are off site, but intent should be to engage with them as human beings, not just as employees

5. Create self-thinking professionals, not just efficient pair of hands

Create a communication system with your people so that they are mentally and emotionally engaged to the business. Assure that they have understood and internalized the short and long term strategic direction that the company is taking. Once they realize how the projects and tasks that they perform everyday support and complement the overall company objectives, they will perform their functions with a sense of purpose. That is when they will start functioning as self-managing professionals instead of mindless production machines that require 24/7 supervision

6. Consider your peoples’ performance a measure of your own

This is where most companies fall short. Design a meaningful and functioning performance management system. As a people manager it is your responsibility to make sure that your people understand what they need to achieve in order to move ahead in the organization. Consider their progressive growth part of your job, and make sure that they know that you care and you are actively working towards it. Once a new employee has passed the basic performance criteria and is considered fit for the position then his or her performance is a reflection of your performance as a leader

7. Ask them to help you be a better leader

Whether your company practices 360 feedback or not, conduct quarterly formal performance reviews with your employees. As part of the process ask them to give you feedback on your performance as a leader. Ask them what you can do to help them be better at their jobs. Encourage openness and transparency. You will be amazed at how insightful your employees can be about your behavior, leadership style and communication. You will not get this gem of insight from anyone else. Use this information to improve yourself. An immeasurable side benefit will be that you will develop a strong relationship of trust with your employees which is essential for a healthy professional relationship

8. Promote your people in front of your superiors

Bosses promote themselves in front of their superiors, leaders promote their people. Find occasions to highlight the achievements of your people. That will come as automatic if you consider their performance a reflection of your own. Your employee will go an extra mile for you knowing that you care for them

9. Consider micromanagement a disease

Micromanagement is an expression of personal insecurities of the manager. Leaders who are confident in their abilities to lead their teams effectively delegate down and multiply their team’s productivity many fold. Bosses who suffer from self-doubt hesitate to delegate down and feel an impulsive need to control and manage all minute details. Being micromanaged diminishes one’s capacity to think independently, lowers self-esteem, and creates an environment of distrust. Yes, sometimes micromanagement is the appropriate response to a temporary situation, but it should not be a norm. A healthy work environment discourages micromanagement and promotes delegation and employee empowerment

10. Feel the pain when letting someone go

A company’s attitude towards its people is best expressed when someone is let go. Letting someone go is an essential part of doing business. Reasons could be restructuring, business liquidation, performance issues, etc. More often than not, departure from a company turns out to be best for both the company as well as the employee. In any case, in almost all instances, involuntary departure is a moment of extreme stress and hurt for the employee, for obvious reasons. Assuming you have done everything in your power to avoid the departure, here are a few things that you can do to minimize the financial and psychological loss of the employee being relieved

Explain to them what aspects of their performance needs to improve

Allow them a grace period so they can scout for jobs while at work

Help them understand their strengths and prepare them for the next opportunity

Provide them with reference letters, complement them on their linked-in site

Agree to be their reference when needed by the prospective employer

Allow continuing medical coverage for an appropriate period

Show them respect and thank them for their commitment and contributions

Think about what you will need if you were in their place

Last but not the least, identify your own weakness as a leader, and ensure that in future you hire the right person for the job and that you coach him or her for success