There’s a vast difference between a leader and a boss. A leader influences, collaborates, guides, mentors and supports others to foster movement in a desired direction. Conversely, a boss lords over others, is often controlling and domineering and uses fear and intimidation to get ever more out of the individuals he or she oversees.
If you’re like most people, you’ve worked for a variety of business owners and managers over your lifetime. Undoubtedly, a few stand out in your mind as people you enjoyed working for, while others created an unpleasant work environment. It’s also likely there’s no doubt in your mind about the type of person for which you’d rather work.
Leaders create goodwill and enthusiasm and foster an environment where teammates want to give as much as possible. Leaders understand they can’t control others and endeavor instead to help their people gain more self-control; make better decisions; and thereby become leaders, too. Bosses rely on authority and fear to make individuals do more and more for as little as possible. Bosses believe they retain control when their people are intimidated and afraid.
Leaders are service-oriented and see themselves as part of the team. With this mindset, there’s no need for blame, only a collaborative effort in a shared mission. Bosses tend to be self-centered and power hungry. They believe they’re special; stand above everyone else; and, because there’s no team concept, play the blame game.
Leaders recognize that when a person receives quality instruction and training, understanding and efficiency are created. Leaders also know sharing their time and knowledge helps their people become more competent and, therefore, confident. Bosses like to tell others how to do things rather than get involved and demonstrate the process. They’re more interested in power and control than teaching others how and why something should be done.
Leaders give credit where it’s due and readily accept responsibility as part of the team. They work with their people to find solutions and inspire others through their examples of personal accountability and teamwork. Bosses love to take all the credit for things that go well and none of the accountability for things that don’t. To retain authority and control, they believe they can never be at fault.
Leaders rely on the intelligence of their team members, understanding no one person knows it all. They seek out and welcome the ideas of their teammates, knowing this will contribute to the team’s overall success. Bosses believe they know it all and they’re the only ones with the correct answers. They don’t welcome the knowledge of their people, leaving employees uninspired and disheartened.
Leaders willingly empower their team members and, therefore, the entire company, leading everyone to increased happiness and success. Rather than simply bossing people around, leaders help others become their best. Bosses disempower and demoralize people, making them and the company less of what they can be.
Leaders view their team members as humans with their own hopes, dreams and desires. Leaders coach their people in the pursuit of achieving their goals and help them become more than they were. Bosses see people as objects in their pursuit of success, riches and power. They drive their people and use them up along the way.
Through their commitment to communication and mentoring, leaders foster the best in others as the people they lead are treated like valuable humans capable of accomplishing great things. Through their lack of appreciation and dictatorial management, bosses lay the foundation for distrust, resentment, disloyalty, high turnover and absenteeism, lowered productivity and efficiency and underperformance of the business.
The biggest difference between these two management styles is that leaders work to empower their team members and inspire them to personal and professional greatness. Bosses disempower their people to control them.
Are you a leader or are you a boss? If you recognize within yourself the need or desire for leadership development, take the powerful step of working with a qualified professional to become a respected leader on your team. The admired leaders among us believe in and value humans and work diligently to collaborate with and develop the potential in their people for the betterment of all. Bosses do not.