Are you a boss, or are you leading your team?

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

Chances are, you’ve worked for a variety of different people in your life. Certainly, some clearly stand out in your mind as people you enjoyed working for, while others seemed to suck all the pleasure out of the experience. There’s probably no doubt about the type of person you’d rather work for, and why.

There’s a huge difference between being a boss and being a leader. By definition, a “boss” is someone who’s a master over others; who’s controlling, domineering and authoritative; and uses fear to get ever more out of the individuals he or she manages. Conversely, a “leader” uses influence, guidance and support to foster movement in a desired direction. The largest difference between these two management styles is that a boss disempowers peoples, while a leader inspires team members to greatness.

Let’s explore some of the most significant differences between “bosses” and “leaders.”
Bosses drive their people and willingly use them up along the way. They see people as an expendable resource to be depleted in their pursuit of success, riches and power. Leaders coach their people in the direction of wanting to achieve lofty goals and assist them in becoming more than they once were. Leaders view their team members as a precious resource to be cultivated, enhanced and developed.

Bosses rely on authority and fear to make individuals do more and more for as little as possible. They believe that when their people are intimidated and afraid, their control is guaranteed. Leaders create goodwill and enthusiasm, which create an environment where their teammates want to give as much as possible by their own choice. Leaders understand they don’t have control over others and endeavor to help their people gain more self-control and make better decisions.

Bosses are self-centered and power hungry. They believe they’re special, stand above everyone else and, because there is no team concept, play the blame game. Leaders, on the other hand, are service-focused and see themselves as part of the team. With this mindset, there’s no need for blame, only a collaborative effort in the direction of a shared solution.

Bosses believe they know it all and they’re the only ones with the correct answers. They don’t allow for the knowledge of their people, which leaves “employees” uninspired and disheartened. Leaders rely on the intelligence of their team members, understanding that no one person knows it all. They seek out and welcome the ideas of their followers, knowing this will only contribute to the team’s overall success.

Bosses like to tell others how to do things rather than get involved and demonstrate the process. They are more interested in accomplishing a task instead of teaching others how and why something should be done. Leaders recognize that when a person receives quality instruction in a hands-on manner, efficiency is created. Leaders also know that sharing their time and knowledge helps their people to become more confident and competent.

Bosses love to take all the credit for things that go well and none of the accountability for things that don’t. They believe that to maintain their authority and control, they can never be at fault. Leaders readily accept accountability as part of the team, work with their people for solutions and inspire others through their positive example of teamwork.

Through their lack of appreciation and dictatorial management style, bosses lay the foundation for distrust, resentment, disloyalty, disrespect, high turnover and absenteeism, lowered productivity and efficiency and underperformance of the business. Through their commitment to communication and hands-on management style, leaders foster just the opposite as the people they lead are treated like valuable human beings capable of accomplishing great things.

Bosses disempower individuals, making them and their company less of what they can be. Leaders willingly assist in the empowerment of their team members and, therefore, the entire company, leading everyone to increased happiness and success. Rather than simply bossing people around, leaders assist others in becoming their best.

In the end, leaders believe in people. Bosses don’t. This fact causes a leader to work diligently to develop the potential in their people, while a boss will work to dominate theirs.

Are you a “boss” or a “leader?” If you recognize within yourself the need to develop your leadership skills, take the courageous step of working with a qualified professional to help you achieve your goals.