Boss vs Leader – Know The Difference!

  • March 16, 2018
  • by Kate Kurzawska
  • No comments

“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Boss Or a Leader, What’s The Difference?

A project manager, manager, supervisor, we call it all the same – a boss. But is this right to say that every person who is in charge is actually a boss? Of course, in the more general sense that is fair. However, we should be able to distinguish the real leader from a boss. It may seem that there is little difference between the two but, in fact, this difference is huge.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a boss is “a person who exercises control or authority,” whereas a leader is “a person who leads.” Even though these two terms are used interchangeably, it’s important to know the difference.

That’s why today we present the main characteristics of a boss and leader. Keep reading to find why it’s important to know how to be a good leader and avoid being a boss.

Difference #1 Leader Leads, Boss Bosses The Show

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Chris Cebollero, the author of the book Ultimate Leadership, said in the podcast Stay on Top of Your Work that: Leadership is really an action and you’ve got to show leadership every day. These people who we’re bringing into our organization, we’ve got to invest in them, and we’ve got to help them grow, we’ve gotta ask them what their goals are and help them reach their goals, and get them to their next level.”

And that’s the first characteristic of a good leader, that you don’t just tell people what they should do but you help them achieve their goals by giving an example by your approach to team and the mindset. Boss, on the other hand, isn’t concerned with the team’s development and showing them the right path but with his personal success. Thus, he only wants the team to do their tasks without engaging in their work.

Difference #2 Leader Motivates, Boss Is Authoritative

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One of the main challenges of a good leader is to keep his team motivated. Leaders don’t yell at people and tell them what they did wrong, as it is often in the case of bosses, but they encourage to face challenges. If there is a problem or a conflict, a leader takes advantage of it and turns it in favor of the team. He finds opportunities in difficult situations and motivates his team to take an action.

Difference #3 Leader Builds a Team, Boss Tells People What to Do

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One of the perks of being a good leader is the challenge of managing a team. You can only do it right if you are able to build a great team. A team in which people communicate openly, are not afraid to ask questions and talk about their problems, and can always talk to the leader about any aspect of the work.

If you’re the type of a person who tells people what to do expecting miracles, you’re doing it wrong. Boss doesn’t care about building a team, he cares about the project being delivered and whether everyone in the team did his or her job. A leader is quite the opposite, he takes part in the project and supports his team instead of giving everyone orders.

Difference #4 Leader Appreciates The Team, Boss Takes The Credit

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How many times did your boss take the credit for your or your team’s project? A true leader appreciates efforts of every person on the team and makes sure no one feels left behind. It’s important to see everyone’s efforts and praise people for it. The best way is in rewarding your team for their hard work and motivating them to become the better version of themselves. Also, a good leader teaches people the art of leadership.

So if you claim the credit for what your team did, you’re far from being a good leader. And that’s exceeding all the boundaries of an ethical leadership.

Difference #5 Leader Delegates, Boss Micromanages

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A good leader knows that not everyone on the team is able to perform certain tasks, even if people have desired skills or competencies. A boss simply doesn’t care about it, whereas leader knows that it’s important to delegate. And delegating tasks can be profitable to the project. A leader knows that everyone on the team is different. He knows people’s personalities and makes sure that tasks are assigned to this particular person because he or she has the unique expertise and approach to things. 

Difference #6 Leader Is Compassionate, Boss Inspires Fear

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People are different, have different needs, feel things in a way others don’t, and a good leader is aware of that. A boss only wants to have the work done and doesn’t care about how it’s done. A leader is compassionate and understands the difficulties of projects. He is a person who wants to motivate people to take action and supports his team in difficult decisions.

It’s not said that you have to be the best friend of all your employees. However, it is important to remember that you should treat everyone equally, be open to their problems, and learn to manage people with different types of personalities.

Are You a Boss Or A Leader?

Being a good leader may also mean being a good boss. But you can’t be a good boss if you’re not a good leader. Your work shouldn’t be only about gaining profits for yourself, but, above all, it should be about peopleBeing a leader means showing people how to act and how to constantly become better. Leading a team is leading human beings, not robots.

Remember, if you don’t care about people, you’re not a leader. Leadership is all about people.

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Kate Kurzawska

Kate is a freelance translator, copywriter, and a content writer specializing in time tracking software, time management, and productivity. When not researching new software, she's reading books, or spending time outdoors.

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