A leader is someone within an organization who possesses the ability to influence and lead others by example. Leaders inspire, support, and encourage those beneath them and work continuously to achieve objectives. A boss is someone within an organization who gives direct orders to subordinates, tends to be autocratic, and prefers to be in control at all times.
The difference between leaders and bosses
If one searches for the definition of a leader and boss in the dictionary, the definitions provided for each are very similar.
Both roles require the individual to be responsible for others, but while leaders lead subordinates or teams, bosses are in charge of them.
This subtle difference and its various ramifications are explained in more detail below.
Leaders prioritize their employees and are said to be people experts. They are empathic, sensitive, and understand effective conflict resolution strategies.
Bosses prioritize results and are said to be subject matter experts.
Leaders motivate their workforce by setting an example and inspiring others to follow them.
They don’t command respect but instead trust that employees will look up to them based on their fair and proactive leadership.
Bosses, on the other hand, tend to use fear and bravado in an attempt to command respect from their subordinates.
This may be effective in the short term, but ultimately, it causes employee burnout, resentment, and conflict.
Most leaders work in close collaboration with employees and understand what it takes to build a positive culture.
They know the names of those around them and are aware of their unique strengths and weaknesses.
They also enjoy celebrating wins and feel like just another member of the team working toward the same goal.
Bosses do not work in close collaboration with employees. They see their role (and indeed themselves) as separate or superior to their employees, and they do not take the time to understand them on a personal level.
Examples of successful business leaders include:
Who favored the participatory leadership style and valued the contributions of his teams and peers.
The Virgin founder has a somewhat unique leadership style that emphasizes fun, joy, and laughter.
He also prefers to praise people when they do well as opposed to criticizing them when they don’t.
Here are two examples of bad bosses:
The ex-VP of fashion brand J. Crew once made 175 staff redundant and then boasted about it on Instagram.
J. Edgar Hoover
The former FBI boss was notorious for his unconventional workplace rules and was feared by his employees.
He did not allow them to drink coffee after 8.15 am, for example, and insisted they be on-call 24 hours a day in the event he needed them for menial tasks like mowing his lawn.
- A leader is someone within an organization who possesses the ability to influence and lead others by example. A boss is someone who gives direct orders to subordinates, tends to be autocratic, and prefers to be in control at all times.
- Leaders are empathic, collaborative, people experts who understand what it takes to build a positive culture. Bosses are results-oriented, adversarial, subject matter experts who maintain distance between themselves and subordinates.
- Examples of successful leaders include Walt Disney and Richard Branson. Two examples of bad bosses include former J. Crew VP Alejandro Rhett and J. Edgar Hoover.
Read Also: Leadership vs. Management.
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