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Becoming a (Better) Leader

How are you with your New Year’s resolution so far?  The word New Year’s resolution is not a good term. Why should you do certain things only from the first of January? It should rather be a reminder of some essential principles or habits that have died out a bit. But if there may be one New Year’s resolution/reminder in the professional field, let it be this: be a leader instead of a boss. Even if you are not a formal leader, adopting the principles of a good leader can ensure that you can be a role model for others. A good leader inspires others and can lift them to a higher level of functioning.

#1 We instead of Me

The art of being a good leader is hidden in little things, even in language. Speaking about “we” instead of “I” creates a shared responsibility. Employees feel they are partly responsible for meeting targets, which creates a sense of ownership. The result of ownership is that people are more committed to the strategy and plans and, consequently, more motivation (Baines, 1998). Creating ownership as a leader is an art. Central here is the participation process, which can be enabled using the correct language as a leader. It’s about involving the team in decisions instead of making them alone. 

#2 Enthusiasm Instead of Fear

Toxic leadership creates a fear-based culture. A fear-based culture creates fear-based motivation, the least effective form of motivation. The symptoms of such a work atmosphere are a lack of trust and weak relationships between leaders and the team. Instead, leaders should install a culture of enthusiasm. Such a culture is characterized by more long-term thinking, learning, innovation, and of course, trust. Such a leader allows successes to be celebrated but is also compassionate when things go wrong. As a result, people dare to admit mistakes, do not shy away from sensitive topics, and share more information. In short, a leader should promote enthusiasm rather than fear. (Cfr. Edmondson, 2018)

#3 Listening instead of Talking

A good leader knows what is going on in the workplace. Showing that you actively listen as a leader makes employees feel that you include them in important decisions. This is not about managing people but becoming one of them.  Never underestimate the power of listening! Indeed, it results in many benefits such as job performance, better employee well-being, better relationships, more trust, and generally better job attitudes. Active listening creates a reciprocal conversation in which the exchange of creative ideas is possible. In short, it is a win-win for both the manager and the team member (Kluger et al., 2022).

#4 Giving instead of Taking Credit

A common reason people leave work is that they feel underappreciated. However, giving credit to a co-worker or the whole team when achieving a goal can work wonders. This can already be done by doing small things such as sharing successes or celebrating progress. And this doesn’t have to be big. Just reflecting on the (small) progress that was made is sometimes enough to keep people motivated. And when someone has accomplished something good, praise that person publicly! He or she will only flourish more at work (Cfr. Amabile & Kramer, 2011).


These four principles are the first step in being a (better) leader rather than a boss. Leaders are role models for the rest of the team and organization. They serve as a moral compass for others; they inspire others to adopt the correct behavior. For a leader, people take priority over work. For a boss, the opposite is more likely to be true.

A good leader creates opportunities for others. And one step further: a good leader creates successful leaders.



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Amabile, T., & Kramer, S. (2011). The progress principle: Using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work. Harvard Business Press.

Baines, A. (1998). Creating a culture of ownership. Work Study.

Kluger, A. N., & Itzchakov, G. (2022). The power of listening at work. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 9, 121-146.


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Becoming a better leader is a matter of listening, sharing, giving and trusting.

Annelien LangendriesJunior Consultant

Why do we focus on Leadership?

Leadership is one of the capabilities an organization needs to develop in order to become resilient and execute strategies in a turbulent world. Leaders need to be versatile and be able to manage the possible tensions between being people-centric and results-oriented, between managing for today or leading towards tomorrow.

If you want to know more about how we can help you in developing leadership in your organization, get in touch.

Get in touch

Annelien is Junior Consultant. She specializes in leadership and collaboration in digital contexts. As an organizational psychologist, she helps organizations to grow sustainably through developing their leaders.

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