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Written by Chris White



There are thousands of books written about how to be an effective leader or manager and just as many “Top 10” lists of activities to do every day. The problem is, these books tend to be complex, and the lists don’t give context.

In How to Be a Great Boss, authors Renè Boer and Gino Wickman explain what defines leaders and managers, and describe the four elements of leadership and management.


  • “On”
  • Clear Direction
  • Create Openings
  • Thinking


  • “In”
  • Clear Expectations
  • Communication
  • Doing

Leaders vs. Managers


Great leaders set aside time to meet with their team to work “on” the business and set the direction for the next five to ten years.

They create openings so employees can see opportunity for growth and advancement. And, they slow down enough to actually “think” about where the business is and where it should be going.


Great managers work “in” the business, setting “expectations” with their direct reports, and communicating frequently and with consistency. This is the “doing” of the day-to-day activities to deliver the company’s products or services.

How to Find Out if You’re a Great Leader or Manager


1.) I am giving clear direction – Y/N

  • Sharing company vision
  • Creating openings

2.) I am providing the necessary tools – Y/N

  • Resources
  • Technology
  • Training
  • People
  • Time & attention

3.) I am letting go of the vine – Y/N

  • Delegating to others
  • Not getting in the way

4.) I act with the greater good in mind – Y/N

  • My actions
  • My decisions
  • I walk the talk
  • Put company needs first

5.) I am taking clarity breaks – Y/N

  • Spending time “on” the business
  • Creating clarity
  • Daily, weekly, monthly


When managing my direct reports:

1.) I keep expectations clear – Y/N

  • Mine and theirs
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Share and reinforce company core values
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

2.) I am communicating well – Y/N

  • Two-way conversations

3.) I have the right meeting pulse – Y/N

  • Even exchange of dialogue
  • Weekly
  • Reposting measurables

4.) I am doing quarterly one-on-ones – Y/N

  • Reviewing core value adherence
  • Hitting KPIs
  • Completing priorities (Rocks)
  • GWC the position (Get it, Want it, Capacity to do it)

5.) I am rewarding and recognizing – Y/N

  • Giving positive/negative feedback within 24 hours
  • Criticize in private, praise in public

Review and work to master these four elements of leadership and management, and you’ll see immediate results in your efforts. Like Boer and Wickman remind us, “Often, the only difference between a group of indifferent employees and a fully-engaged team comes down to one simple thing – a great boss.

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