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Leaders and bosses- people often use the two titles interchangeably to describe someone who manages a group of individuals, typically in a business environment. But in reality, each title carries a different connotation. Without being conscious of it, we sometimes refer to some figures as bosses and others as leaders.

 

What are the qualities of a boss?

Boss

NOUN
informal
1A person who is in charge of a worker or organization.
‘her boss offered her a promotion’

1.1 A person in control of a group or situation.
‘does he see you as a partner, or is he already the boss?’”

Oxford English Dictionary

A boss is someone with authority and command over a person, group, or scenario. Usually, they are focused on achieving goals and creating results.

Bosses face similar challenges as managers- their ultimate goal is to achieve the best outcomes through the allocation of time, people, and company resources, which are often limited in supply.

The most important qualities of a boss include:

  • Efficiency – Bosses typically work with a time and budget constraint and attempt to get the most out of their capital. They value their employees based on how much they can do per hour.
  • Authority – Bosses exert control and power over their team through their position and title. Assigned tasks are typically enforced through fear of certain consequences, whether its demotion or severance.
  • Productivity – Bosses focus on getting things done and generating results- such as greater profits or new customers. Businesses are ultimately measured based on how much they can do in a single hour.

 

What are the qualities of a leader?

Leader

NOUN
1 The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

‘the leader of a protest group’

Lead

VERB

1 Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

‘she emerged leading a bay horse’”

Oxford English Dictionary

While bosses manage, leaders lead. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it’s important. Leading involves guiding and directing others, usually taking the same journey alongside them. Instead of issuing orders, leaders are about empowerment.

Bosses and leaders are both concerned about getting results, but their approaches vary. Bosses will focus on improving the process, while leaders focus on developing the people.

The most important qualities of a leader include:

  • Teamwork – Leaders may sound like someone who tells people what to do, but they are actually great followers and listeners as well. Great leadership is as much about building a cohesive team.
  • Inspiration – Leaders don’t just demand action, they inspire action. The difference is that they coach and encourage team members to think and act independently. Leaders believe inspired team members have greater potential.
  • Courage – Leaders may be forced to make difficult decisions or take responsibility for others. They stand out from the crowd because they can make the choices no one else can.

 

What’s the difference between a leader and a boss?

Check out this video for the differences between a leader and a boss from Entrepreneur.

If you want to know how to be a leader instead of just a boss, take note of these key differences:

Giving Orders vs. Giving Directions – Bosses assign tasks and order people around. Leaders provide direction and inspiration for teams to act on their own.

Process vs. People – Bosses find efficiencies by improving processes. Leaders find efficiencies by developing teams of people and their unique skillset.

Short Term vs. Long Term – Bosses focus on daily or monthly results. Leaders focus on the yearly progress and long-term futures.

And browse through this infographic for more differences between the two titles.

 

Becoming a good leader

Leaders go beyond the organizational duties of a boss- they focus on how to work with real people. That isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes people can be rigid in changing their ways, or external situations and factors can have an unforeseeable impact on the team. When leaders can figure out how to best work with their people, the rewards can be far greater. When the brand starts with their people, everything else falls into place.

For more information and resources on developing leadership skills, visit Level Office’s blog today.