Are you a boss, or a leader? Almost anyone can be a boss, but it takes a special set of skills and talents to be a leader. Let’s look at a few differences:

  • Bosses bark orders. Leaders develop skills.
  • Bosses see employees as blocks in the schedule. Leaders see employees as contributing members of a team.
  • Bosses focus on employee failures. Leaders focus on turning challenges into opportunities for improvement.
  • Bosses just want to get through the shift. Leaders understand how each shift contributes to big picture goals.

READ: It’s Not All About You

Setting leadership goals is the first step toward being a true leader instead of just a boss. Each of your personal goals should have a direct impact on your staff. This might require you to change the way you look at your relationship with your employees. Instead of thinking about what they should be doing for you, ask yourself what you should be doing for them. Employees in the retail and service industries all want the same things from their managers. Take a look at READ:

R is for Respect. Employees want to feel respected and appreciated. This respect must be genuine, so give your employees opportunities to earn it. Employees also want leaders who recognize the challenges they face, both personally and on the job, and take the time to show appreciation for a job well done.

E is for Expectations. Do you tell your employees you want them to deliver excellent customer service, or do you set clear expectations for employees to welcome every customer who walks in the door, offer assistance quickly when needed, and thank every customer who makes a purchase? The clearer you are with your expectations, the more likely employees are to exceed them.

A is for Advancement. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your employees are only working for you until something better comes along. Make your company be that something better. One of your leadership goals should be for each of your employees to have a path for career progression. Make it a point to show your staff that our industry is full of opportunities for long-term careers.

D is for Development. Your employees are an investment in your company. You wouldn’t buy a new piece of equipment and not maintain it, right? Employees are worth much more than anything you could purchase, so be sure you have leadership goals that define a solid strategy for ongoing development of employee skills.

As a boss, you and your staff will survive. As a leader, you and your staff will thrive. Now get out there and lead!