Be a Leader (Not a Boss)




Don't Follow the Example of Iconic TV and Movie Characters

What do The Office’s Michael Scott, Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, Office Space’s Bill Lumbergh and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada all have in common? They’re some of the most memorable bosses on TV and the big screen—for all the wrong reasons. From ultra-cheesy, mega greedy to super sleazy, there’s been no shortage of highly incapable, completely inappropriate supervisors to entertain us.

Fast forward to your workplace
While workplace hilarity is perfect with your favorite beverage on the comfort of your couch, can you imagine if one of these fictional characters was your supervisor in real life? I’m cringing just thinking about heartless micromanager Lumbergh at my office. (“Charlie, yeah, I’m going to need you to come in tomorrow and if you can come in on Sunday, too, that’d be greeaaaat.”)

Whether you work on the manufacturing floor or in an office, the importance of having an effective leader cannot be underestimated. A recent Gallup study found that 1 out of 2 adults had left their job to get away from a manager. The bottom line: Supervisors can make or break employee retention and job satisfaction.

If you’re a supervisor, ask yourself the following questions: Do you give your employees a case of the Mondays every day of the week? Are you bringing out the best in your employees or are you bringing out your worst?

What is great leadership?
True leadership is not just the ability to motivate a group toward a common goal—it’s the ability to cross over from a person employees have to follow, to a person they want to follow. Leadership is influence, and if the focus is shifted from traditional authority to true relational leadership—treating your team members as people first and employees second—success will follow. Develop positive employee-manager relationships and employee retention skills, equip managers with practical tools that can be used every day to attract new talent and keep the good people already onboard.

To simplify the process, I have boiled down three critical points:

  • Find out, and relate to, what your employees value. (Mr. Burns, are you listening?)
  • Sacrifice a little bit of time and energy to connect with each team member on a regular basis. (Yep, Michael Scott did this well . . . minus Toby and Meredith.)
  • Communicate appreciation. (All of the fictional characters need a crash course on this one.)

Enhance your skills and fill the gap with leadership training
The Center’s Supervisory Skills Workshop can develop, enhance and refresh your skills as a leader and offer a renewed outlook on true relational leadership. Have some employees with leadership potential or a newly promoted supervisor or foreman and want to give him or her some practical management training? This 32-hr. class is ideal for them, too. Among others, participants will learn how to:

  • Identify their leadership style and its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Discover different behavioral characteristics and determine the best method for each type.
  • Uncover communication barriers and listening/communication techniques to enhance interaction in all directions.
  • Examine how individuals are motivated and identify opportunities to encourage subordinates to achieve organizational goals.
  • Determine the most effective methods of delivering on-the-job training and apply them for increased competence in employees.
  • Pinpoint what causes conflict and how to mitigate and prevent escalation.

Be the reason talented employees stay with your company. Let’s leave the drama where it
belongs . . . on the screen.

Interested in learning more?
Click here to watch a short video about The Center's Supervisory Skills course.

Join me for the Supervisory Skills Workshop:
July 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Kalamazoo Country Club
1609 Whites Road
Kalamazoo, MI
Click here to register.

September 18, 20, 25 and 27, 2017
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The Center
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI
Click here to register.


Charlie Westra, Growth Services Program Manager
Charlie Westra is a Program Manager for The Center and teaches the Supervisory Skills class. He enjoys interacting with small to mid-sized manufacturers about how to improve morale, motivate effectively, reduce conflict and resistance to change. To read Charlie’s full bio, click here.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Leadership/Culture