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Being an Unbossy Leader

An unbossy leader leads not with an iron fist but with an open heart and a commitment to the growth of those they lead.

Today more than ever, successful leadership is not about issuing commands from an ivory tower but fostering collaboration, nurturing creativity, and empowering individuals to thrive.

Being an unbossy leader is not a mere trend; it's a fundamental shift in how we perceive and practice leadership. It's about moving away from the top-down, autocratic approach and embracing a style of leadership that values inclusivity, transparency, and empathy.

An unbossy leader leads not with an iron fist but with an open heart and a commitment to the growth of those they lead. So, if you're ready to challenge the status quo of leadership and become an unbossy leader, take a look below.

Be patient in your positioning

Before you define your leadership style, it’s important to give yourself time to step into your leadership role (which often takes longer than people would like it to take). Learn the ins and outs of your team, understand how you collaborate with others, and grow into what you need to be for that specific position.

There is certainly a generous way to lead. But it takes time and patience to truly become a strong leader. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you learn how to truly embody your leadership position.

Put yourself out there

Remaining visible online is much easier said than done. But for those looking to become a strong leader, it’s vital. The longer people see you establishing yourself as an industry leader, the easier it will be to build trust with them.

Let’s say you’ve shared your thoughts and advice on LinkedIn for the past year. You’ve made new connections and aren’t afraid to show your face. Then, when a leadership position presents itself, people are already familiar with you—they’re not wondering where you came from. Put yourself out there so you can begin building trust early on.

Work on your time management

One of the biggest obstacles leaders face is time—not seeming to have enough or not managing it well. Being unbossy means not having to push people toward their responsibilities. The best leaders are well-organized and understand how to delegate with grace.

Yes, leaders should also be well-versed in creating and developing good ideas. However, they also need to execute these ideas in a way that makes sense for themselves, their team members, and their clients. Focus on time management to lead without adding stress to anyone’s schedule.

Quiet your inner monologue

Leaders, especially women, often have a chorus of naysayers inside their heads. Things like, “Who am I to step up here?” or “Am I qualified to share my thoughts?” are constantly running through our minds.

To avoid being a bossy leader, learn to quiet these thoughts. We do ourselves a disservice by second-guessing ourselves and removing our expertise from the equation. You don’t need to stay small—you always have valuable things to contribute.

Redefine “bossy”

For those new to leadership, it’s natural to think of bossy as a negative trait. But let’s stop thinking of “bossy” as a bad word! In reality, being bossy simply means you’re holding people to their word. A true leader isn’t bossy in the way society defines it—they merely support others regarding the ideas they said they’d put into action. 

Ensure everyone has a voice

Leaders who tend to come across as pushy or unsupportive do so because they don’t pull up a seat at the table for everyone. Strong leaders ensure everyone they work with feels seen and heard—especially when challenges arise.

Leaders will have difficulty gaining respect if they ignore what’s right in front of them. So, to build trust, you need to address any issues that arise (even—or especially—when it’s challenging!). Being a boss means you’re there for the people you lead, regardless of what’s happening inside and outside the organization.

Don’t overthink it

The last thing you want as a leader is to feel self-conscious about your leadership style. Lead by example and embody the person you want your team to emulate. Prioritize communication and establish healthy boundaries from the get-go.

Don’t worry too much about what your team members think about you daily. Check in with them and let them know you’re there should they need anything. It’s always okay to ask someone, “How can I help?” or “What do you need from me to succeed?” This shows you’re invested in the success of those around you (without being overbearing).

Invite feedback

Stingy leaders often feel it’s their way or the highway. So if you want to avoid this mindset, asking for feedback is essential. Know the time and place—you don’t want to overanalyze what you’re doing on a client’s wedding day or at a corporate celebration. But when you let your team know you want to improve, they’ll feel more comfortable sharing their honest thoughts. 

Push the reset button

If you’re struggling with burnout as a leader, remember that it’s okay to press pause. Having an outlet is one of the best things you can do—whether it’s a therapist, a coach, or someone in your industry you can vent to. 

Doing everything all the time will only lead to stress and overwhelm—and, in turn, you may lash out at your team. It goes back to time management and ensuring you don’t add too much to your plate. Consider your physical and mental bandwidth before making any significant decisions.

As you step back into your leadership role, embrace the principles of unbossy leadership. Be the leader who listens, empowers, and inspires. Be the leader who fosters a culture of trust and inclusivity. Be the leader who not only drives success but also enriches the lives of those you lead.

Ultimately, being an unbossy leader means remembering that it’s not actually about you—but how you can serve others.

Renée Dalo is the owner and lead planner of Moxie Bright Events, a boutique wedding planning company based out of LA. With over 12 years of experience under her belt, Renée turned her knowledge towards the advancement of the industry as a whole with her self-guided Wedding Management e-course and her popular B2B podcast, Talk With Renée Dalo. Renée is a fan favorite on the speaker circuit, taking the stage at national and international conferences across the country, including Alt Summit, Wedding MBA, and Creative at Heart, among others. As the first certified life coach in the wedding industry, Renee holds her CPCC (Certified Professional Co-Active Coach) Certification from Co-Active Training Institute.

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