Who’s the Boss?

Here is a conversation between myself and a former boss as we watched an event unfold that had been successfully planned and carried out by the rest of the team:

The Boss: Why does my staff not do what I tell them to do?
Me: Maybe because you’re telling them and not asking them nicely or seeking their input.
The Boss: Why would I do that?
Me: Oh, I don’t know. Have you heard the old adage, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar?” People respond better and feel empowered when being asked to do something as opposed to being told what to do.
The Boss: But I’m the boss!!
Me: Yep. (And I walked away).

Back then, I didn’t know how to help this guy. But now, years later, as I’ve immersed myself in the leadership philosophy of John Maxwell and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I think about what I would do and say to help that “boss” become a leader.

The Law of Empowerment says, “Only secure leaders give power to others.” When people know that they’ve been empowered, they feel that their leader or leaders trust and believe in them. They will do anything for an empowering leader. But a leader who takes away their power, their ability to influence and make a difference, will find himself standing alone.

I recently spoke to a young person who works for a company I will not name. The company offers customers a “buy one, get one free” deal on a certain day of the week. However, employees are told that they are only to extend this offer when a customer asks for it. There is a small sign near the register to alert the customer to the deal, but if they don’t ask for it, they don’t get it. In fact, employees are expressly forbidden to suggest to a customer that they could save a few dollars by taking advantage of the special offer. This young lady told me how horrible she felt one day when a customer noticed the sign after paying. He asked why she had not told him of the special and all she could say was, “I’m sorry. It’s not my responsibility to tell you.” She told me that she hates working at that establishment and for that boss.

On the flip side, I recently visited a Chick-fil-A store where I went to purchase $20 in gift cards. The young man behind the counter said, “Sir, did you know that we have a special? If you buy $25 in gift cards, you get a free calendar that comes with a coupon for each month of the year.” Well, being a frequent visitor to the local Chick-fil-A, I was excited to know about this deal and bought an extra $5 gift card! (I’m a sucker for those calendars. Hey, they’re funny.). The young man’s face lit up as he gained the satisfaction of knowing that he was able to make someone happy by simply letting them know something they didn’t already know. He was experiencing the joy of having been empowered. His boss empowered him to serve the customer well.

John Maxwell puts it this way, “Enlarging others makes you larger. The purpose of power is to be distributed, not hoarded, but only secure leaders are able to give their power away. Recognize and resist the natural inclinations to keep a tight grip on power. In the long run, you’ll be rewarded for letting go.”

So who’s the boss? It’s not the person who is bossy. It’s not the person who has the title. It’s the person who truly seeks to lead others. The boss (the one who leads well) is the person who is off to the side, distributing his authority to those under his leadership, allowing them to shine because they’ve been empowered. Empower your team today!

About the Author

David Jochum imageDave has 25 years of experience in leadership training in the church and non-profit sector.

He specializes in helping churches, non-profits, and small businesses learn how to motivate staff and volunteers, how to lean on each other’s strengths, and how to empower teams to take ownership of their assignments.

Dave is a Founding Partner of the John Maxwell Team.

Contact Dave at :  www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/davejochum