Do you want to work for a boss or a leader?

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

If you’re like most people, you’ve worked for a variety of business owners and managers throughout your lifetime. Undoubtedly, a few clearly stand out in your mind as people for which you enjoyed working, while others created an unpleasant environment. It’s also likely there’s no doubt about the type of person for which you’d rather work.

There’s a vast difference between being a boss and being a leader. By definition, a boss is someone who’s a master over others, who’s often domineering and uses intimidation to get ever more out of the individuals he or she oversees. Conversely, a leader influences, collaborates, guides, mentors and supports to foster movement in a desired direction. The biggest difference between these two management styles is a leader empowers team members and inspires them to personal greatness, while a boss disempowers employees.

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 recognize that when a person receives quality instruction in a hands-on manner, understanding and efficiency are created. Leaders also know sharing their time and knowledge helps their people become more confident and competent.

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

Bosses rely on authority and fear to make individuals do more for as little as possible. Bosses believe they remain in control when their people are intimidated. Leaders create goodwill and enthusiasm that generates an environment where teammates want to give as much as possible. Leaders understand they don’t have control over others and endeavor to help people gain more self-control and make better decisions — thereby becoming leaders, too

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, on the other hand, 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 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, they can never be at fault. Leaders give credit where it’s due and readily accept accountability as part of the team. They work with their people for solutions and inspire others through their positive example of personal accountability and teamwork.

Bosses see people as an expendable resource to be depleted in the pursuit of success, riches and power. They drive their people and willingly use them up along the way. Leaders coach their people in the pursuit of achieving lofty goals and assist them in becoming more than they once were. Leaders view team members as human beings with their own hopes, dreams and desires and as valuable resources to be cultivated, enhanced and developed.

Bosses have the tendency to disempower and demoralize 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 help others in becoming their best.

Through their lack of appreciation and dictatorial management style, bosses lay the foundation for distrust, resentment, disloyalty, high turnover and absenteeism, lowered productivity and efficiency and the 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.

The admired leaders among us believe in and value human beings and work diligently to collaborate with and develop the potential in their people for the betterment of all. Bosses do not.

Are you a boss or a leader? If you recognize within yourself the need for leadership development, take the courageous step of working with a qualified professional to become a respected leader on your team.