Chamber Chat: Looking for Leaders, not Bosses

February 10, 2023 | Written by: Caitlin Moore

Every single day, we have a discussion with a local industry representative about labor supply. As Jeronica Goodwin, Chief People Officer at WakeMed said recently at a Raleigh Chamber event, “Welcome to the new normal!”

Labor supply is an issue everywhere in the United States…and it will continue to be until we figure out to help more people get back into the workforce (think affordable child care…or elder care).

So, if I’m a responsible employer, once I find a good person, how can I get them to stay with me and help make the company more profitable?

In a super article for Industry Week magazine, Jay Richards, who is a partner and member of the founding team at Denison, explains how to find good leaders and keep them.

Denison is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and specializes in corporate culture and leadership development.

Richards says one of the main reasons employees leave their companies is because of their boss. When you have too many “bosses” and not enough leaders, you get high turnover…which impacts quality, production, delivery and safety. Not to mention your organization’s reputation.

Check out social media apps like Glassdoor, Indeed or LinkedIn. Jay says, “These sites let potential hires not only see your dirty laundry, but smell it, too. Your reputation as an organization now goes beyond the borders of your community.”

So, companies can’t leave development of future leaders to chance.

Jay says companies should actively identify leaders when promoting people into supervisory positions. Look for leaders instead of promoting bosses.

What are the characteristics of good leaders?

Denison looked at results from the Denison Leadership Development 360 Survey, used by thousands of manufacturers over the past 25+ years, and effectiveness ratings for over 3000+ manufacturing leaders (bosses, direct reports and peers).

The top five drivers of what bosses, peers, and direct reports see in effective leaders are:

  1. Has earned the confidence and trust of others. (They have gained respect and give respect)
  2. Engages others in ways that ensure buy-in and commitment. (Work well with people)
  3. Builds effective teams that get the job done. (Know how to coach others)
  4. Serves as a model that creates change in other parts of the organization. (Drive change through process improvement)
  5. Provides employees with a clear mission that gives meaning and direction to their work. (Big picture people)

From here, it is just a matter of identifying what to look for in those who will become leaders in your organization.

If you want to read Jay Richards great article in its entirety, here’s the link:


Bob Joyce

Senior Director, Business Retention & Expansion