How to be a leader at work without being bossy

Learn how to be an effective leader at work.

If you're in a leadership role at work, you want to strike the right balance of being seen as strong and authoritative without coming across as bossy. It's a fine line to walk and a challenging one, especially if you're new to leadership.

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The good news? It is possible to be a boss without being bossy. Below are a few steps to fulfilling your leadership responsibilities and building a healthy, engaged team.

7 ways to be an effective leader

1. Embrace the "we" attitude

If you ever heard the phrase “there’s no I in team” as a kid, get ready to hear it again. The idea is as true in the conference room as it was on the playground. Great leaders don't try to do it all themselves. They also don't bark orders at their teams. Make a point of creating a communicative, collaborative workplace that welcomes everyone’s opinions.

Remember that you and your employees are all working toward a common goal. At the same time, your team probably has many different personalities and work styles, so they’ll approach that goal in different ways. It's on you, the leader, to bring everyone together and move forward as one.

2. Trust your team

Micromanaging is a common mistake among managers because they often struggle with the line between control and authority. This will not only annoy your team, but will also leave you overloaded and burnt out. Instead of trying to dictate what people do and how, delegate responsibilities and then trust people to do the tasks they've been assigned. You might have the final say on certain decisions, but it’s important to trust your team to present you with good options.

Trusting others is critical if you want to lead with a growth mindset. In fact, we recommend hiring people who are smarter than you! Find individuals who can fill the skills and knowledge gaps in your team.

3. Encourage others to take the lead

Another step you can take to avoid micromanaging? Encouraging others to take on leadership responsibilities. Give team members the chance to prove themselves by giving them ownership of specific tasks or projects. This is another way to show your team you trust them.

Giving employees a chance to shine allows you to identify novel ways for them to grow and excel within your organization. When they know their contributions are valued, employees are less likely to switch companies in pursuit of new jobs and will instead seek opportunities within their current company. Make the most of that strategy and tap into your team’s experience and potential.

4. Keep communication open

A lack of communication can result in confusion and misunderstandings in the workplace. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to frustration within your team. Promote communication by keeping your office door open and making it clear that workers can come to you at any time if they have questions or concerns.

Managing a remote team requires a slightly different strategy. Make sure to keep communication alive by checking in regularly. You might schedule a one-on-one every second week, for example, in addition to team meetings. Being responsive to each employee’s communication style and support needs is key when you can’t read nonverbal cues in an office.

5. Seek feedback

The best leaders practice humility. If you give off the impression that you think you're "better" than your team, you're sure to face disgruntled workers. Acknowledge that you make mistakes and have weaknesses. This will make you more relatable to your team and ensure that they aren't intimidated by you.

You can also demonstrate humility by seeking feedback. Encourage employees to provide comments on your leadership much in the same way you'd provide them with a performance review. This can be done anonymously via a digital survey tool to encourage honesty. The results can help you transform your leadership style.

6. Practice gratitude

Sometimes, learning how to be a leader at work without being bossy comes down to two simple words: Thank you! When your employees do something for you, whether it's a complex task or being consistent with a basic routine, take a moment to express your gratitude.

Verbalizing your gratitude doesn't cost you a thing, and it can make a big difference to your team. If you fail to acknowledge their hard work, they may feel unseen and underappreciated. This can damage morale and put a damper on motivation, negatively affecting productivity in the long run.

7. Show your employees you care

Saying "thank you" is just one way to show your employees you care. You also want to ensure they're cared for tangibly, with the appropriate pay and benefits. That said, if you're managing a globalized team, getting payroll and benefits right across multiple countries—each with their own labor laws—can be tricky.

Oyster is here to help. Oyster's leadership team is dedicated to making other leaders' lives easier with one simple global employment solution. Oyster helps leaders like you hire, pay, and care for team members, wherever they are in the world. From compliance issues to payroll in local currency, Oyster covers all the essentials.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense. Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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