10 Differences Between a Boss and a Leader

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Leadership > Best Practices > 10 Differences Between a Boss and a Leader

10 Differences Between a Boss and a Leader
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
I would like to start this article with a simple quote: "Every Leader is a Boss, but Every Boss is not a Leader"
To build our understanding of this topic, let's focus on some typical DIFFERENCES between the two categories mentioned:
1. A boss Drives his workers. A leader Coaches them.
2. A boss depends on Authority. A leader depends on Goodwill.
3. A boss creates Fear. A leader creates Enthusiasm.
4. A boss will always say I. A leader will say WE.
5. A boss Knows how it is done. A leader Shows how it is done.
6. A boss Blames someone on a breakdown. A leader Fixes the breakdown.
7. A boss Uses people. A leader Develops people.
8. A boss will say: Go! A leader will say: Let's go!
9. A boss gives Commands. A leader Asks.
10) A boss will Take the credit. A leader will Give credits.
Now consider the differences. There is only a small change of words in every sentence. But this change of wording makes a big difference! What is the reason for this effect?
According to human psychology, the human brain cannot think in words or alphabets, it thinks in images or pictures if you like.
- When you read all the statements about the boss, an image will be formed of present danger.
- When you read the statements about a leader, an image of some nice person comes to mind.
Relate this to practical life. How can such change of words change the quality?
Let's take an example. When you say to an employee "I command you to...", an agony or anger develops unknowingly in the mind of the receiver. Why did this happen? The answer is when the other person hears the word "command", his brain feel that there is someone who is ordering and controlling his body ad he is no longer the master. As a result, a negative signal is being sent to his body for reacting.
But when you say "I ask you to...", the mind of the receiver feels: Wow! He is asking, so we should give. As a result, a positive signal is given to the body and the employee accepts his leader unknowingly as well as what was asked from him in a positive way and will perform his work more effective and efficiently.
To finish off my tip about being a successful leader: DO WHAT YOU EXPECT OTHERS TO DO.

Differences Between Bosses and Leaders
abdulghaniyu salako, Student (MBA), Nigeria, Member
Kumar, you have done a nice job. How I wish we would all apply it in our day to day life.
I bet, that's going to help humanity. Keep it up. Cheers!

Leadership Model
Syed Nihas, Student (University), United States, Member
Anuj, this indeed is a completely new approach to management. In the past one year I have been exposed to a leadership model at Arizona State University which advocates exactly the same. To add to this, I can tell you that it has actually worked. We will be coming down to India this September to provide the industry and universities some exposure to this revolutionary leadership model.

Differences Between a Boss and a Leader
Lirim Sulejmani, Project Manager, Albania, Member
You've done a nice job, it's really impressive and pushes us towards aiming to be a leader.
Best regards!

Its my Pleasure SIr
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
Thanks all for your appreciation.
Do share this kind of concepts amongst the colleagues as the need of the time is efficient leaders and not a ruling boss
It's my pleasure. Please let me know if I missed out something here and could be added for the betterment of the people. Regards.

Leadership & Management
Jeanne-Elvire ADOTEVI, HR Consultant, France, Member
Great job Anuj Kumar, hightlighting differences between being a Boss and being a Leader in this way is really powerful. It helps explaining to young people what it is really about in a very easy and tangible way. Regards.

Beneficial for Both Himself and Organisation
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
@Jeanne-Elvire ADOTEVI: Thanks for the appreciation Sir. It's a need of the hour as people often misunderstand the concept of leadership and unknowingly dominate the people and become a boss, which often proves dangerous to such leaders personally as well as to their organisation.

Differences between a Boss and a Leader
Maritim Mary, Manager, Kenya, Member
Wonderful insight Anuj. Leadership is actually all about offering and not being offered. Your quote surely proves that and the differences you've put across are amazing. Thanks a lot.

Leaders are the Motivators
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
@Maritim Mary: Thanks a lot for the appreciation.
Indeed leaders are the benchmark for any group. The people take the way their leaders are showing them.
They are the drivers and can make use of their people's skills keeping few of the above things in mind. For any team to be successful you always need a leader who knows his responsibilities and not a boss who just plays a blame or an egoistic game!
Organizations with good leaders have been innovative and developing well, thus fighting and sustaining in the competition succesfully.

Some Further Thoughts upon the Leader versus Boss Debate
Vipul Nahar, India, Member
Well, both “Boss” and “Leader” are mere words which have both formal and informal meanings depending on context. So let’s focus more upon the context in which these words have been practiced by people around us. Starting with “Boss”, In a noun context it simply means the one who is in charge of a person or an organization. As a verb it means ordering in a domineering manner. And as an adjective it refers to excellence.

So now, it’s purely up to us which context to pick and start practicing in our daily lives.

If we look at the meaning of the word “Leader”, it simply means the one who leads but again, the meaning of this word is spoiled by the politics of this nation so badly that the moment if someone does express his/her desire to excel in the field of leadership, people around him/her reacts in this manner: “Leadership? Matlab ab netagiri karega in politicians ki tarah (So now you want to work like our politicians)”. This is how this word has been positioned in many people’s minds.

Next, along with context, it’s important to pay attention to actual types of people rather than any title (boss/leader) associated with them. Talking about types of people we can find the Showman and the Implementer playing a very important role to decide whether a person is practicing the characteristics of a “Boss” or of a “Leader”:
- If we adopt the positive parts of both the Showman and the Implementer i.e. capability of managing the show and putting the hands into the dirt and getting the things done respectively, then a “Leader” emerges.
- If we follow the Showman category completely, then there will be an emergence of so called “Boss“.

This Quote is not Accurate
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Every leader is not a boss. A boss is someone who is hired to manage subordinates. They are to utilize their human resources to get the job done.
That does not mean they are leaders. Leaders aren't necessarily bossy. They have confidence and a certain fearless conscience to keep the focus and work with others to meet the demands of the boss who represents a self interest or corporate goal.
Everyone knows that the boss has the power to hire/fire and counsel. A leader goes to the boss with innovation, feedback and suggestions to improve the process and utilize the resources on hand.

Lets Come Out of the Definitions and Look at it in a Practical Way
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
@Rebecca Roe: Indeed if we look at the organization chart of any organization you'll find positions as LEADERS, MANAGERS but you'll never see the word BOSS.
You even call the head of an organization 'MANAGING DIRECTOR' and not Boss even when he has an authority to hire and fire and the same is applicable to project managers.
Even for an organization owned by an individual, he might be BOSS as per your definition but needs to be a good LEADER for the development and success. A leader always leads by example. .

Being a Boss is OK
Steven Ellis, Analyst, United States, Member
Your concept is sound, but as @Vipul Nahar pointed out, the titles can be a problem and they are often misunderstood.
Being a boss is OK, as long as you can lead. Your list is good, but too general or too "black and white." As such, it is not entirely correct.
Leadership requires the ability to understand people and their individual values. Understanding what motivates someone, and applying those techniques gets results. A leader must have empathy, flexibility, and in-depth knowledge. A leader must not only be willing to do what is asked of the worker, but must let the worker do the work in order to let them grow and develop.
There are far too many micro-managers in the workforce. A leader must be willing to learn and grow, participating in training while ensuring the workers receive the training they need.
Lastly (for this post only, not for a full leadership definition), a leader MUST be willing to take responsibility, make decisions, and apply proper rewards and fair punishment.

Differences Between a Boss and a Manager
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Kumar, now you have compared bosses and leaders, what bout comparing bosses and managers? Are they different or simply different manifestations of the same being?

Well Defined as a Basic Introduction, but...
bashir ullah khan, Accountant, Pakistan, Member
@Steven Ellis: Very nice Steven. This is not it and the list shoulb be longer to define and differentiate both terms.
I always found these 10 points whenever these two terms are defined to be highly incomplete and even misleading.

Well Explained - Differences Between a Boss and a Leader
You have given a good explanation of both categories. These terms "Boss" and "Leader" and how you define them will be accepted by those who have the same perception as yours, of who a Boss is and who a Leader is.
Let me check, you have come up to this definition by experience and that's how you differentiate them.

Let's consider the reverse "Every Boss is a Leader, but every Leader is not a Boss". In the same way, how you define and differentiate them will always be based on one's perception based on one's experience.
We are free to define and differentiate any terms anyway. Yours indeed is great!

Leaders Always LEAD so Others Will FOLLOW
ANUJ KUMAR SHRIVASTAVA, Manager, India, Premium Member
@VILMA JOY VALLE: Thanks a lot for the appreciation!
Of course, the above 10 differences between bosses and leaders just highlight the main differences. Although I completely agree that experience and personal behavior let you know more about anything you do or write about.
As a manager in an organisation it is always your responsibility to be a good LEADER, because others will take you as a benchmark and follow you.
If you behave like a boss, you make a negative impression and the people working under you will never be proud and for sure they will never like to follow you.

Nice Starting Point
Adeyemi Oluwashina, Student (Other), Nigeria, Member
Nice one. I wish all bosses respectively will learn in sincerity to become not just leaders, but good, perfect leaders. At least this is a starting point.

Every Leader is a Boss, but not Every Boss is a Leader
KARINA, Member
You made your point well.
BY having the formal authority as the boss, everyone knows that you say the last word. But being a leader most important encouraging and motivating those 'under' you.

Leader and Boss
eustace n wachira, Kenya, Member
To be a leader, one has to understand the diversities of the team members. Tap each resource and give the resource space to improve the organization.
The boss assumes a know-it-all position and assumes that the success of the organization is purely based on his role.
I as a person believe in pulling the strings, as I move up let others come up too. The boss suppresses them, the reason being fear of competition. The leader is not fearful - instead is appreciative of others and their roles.

Not as Straight Forward as You Think in Practice!
Kari Egge, CEO, Norway, Member
In my experience, most leaders are not straight forward bosses or leaders, but a combination of the two.
I would claim that the best leaders are those who use their authority for the common good and drive for results and coach for development of minds and skills.
It is how you use your position and authority that matters. Women and men differ a lot in leadership execution, and female leaders reach higher results when they lead than men, due to their higher level of emotional and social intelligence.
Independent of sex, very few leaders are like nice school mates and best friends, and they are simply not in the office for that reason. Accountability and responsibility comes with authority. Top leaders are accountable to their boards. Not being able to produce results is a sign of a poor performing leader and s/he may be asked to take on a more bossy style to meet company goals and milestones.


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