A Boss or a Leader—Which Are You?

Posted March 14, 2014

Not all bosses are leaders, and not all leaders are bosses.

The concept of “boss” has unfortunately become negative.  Bosses are seen as taskmasters who give orders and expect them to be obeyed without question. Leaders enjoy a much more positive portrayal as someone with the authority to manage, but who takes charge by example and influences others through encouragement and clear directions and guidance.

How do you know which one you are—and which one do you want to be?  Consider these four areas of management, and how you act in each.

1. How do you present expectations?

In both roles, you have expectations of the people you work with. But as a boss, you hand out assignments with deadlines and expect the work to be done in the allotted time and at a certain standard. Workers are rewarded with compensation and sometimes a bonus or commission for exceeding their goals. As a leader, you involve your team members. You communicate the higher purpose for the work that’s being done by your company and show your employees how their individual jobs play an integral role in the success of your business.

2. How do you define leadership?

A boss has the attitude of “I’m in charge.” The people who work under you are there to make money for the company, and you think the workplace should be all business. A leader is comfortable empowering members of the team and delegating responsibilities to them. You value team members’ input and understand that it’s okay to make mistakes—although not the same ones twice. You also see the value of mentoring and helping others develop their own leadership qualities.

3. How important do you think morale is?

The only time a boss is concerned with morale is when it affects output. And typical bosses don’t want to deal with personal conflicts, don’t encourage friendships with their employees, and keep work and outside lives separate. On the other hand, leaders recognize that high morale means a happy team, and a happy team is a productive team. They also realize that conflicts will arise at work and that they have to be dealt with. Leaders will take the necessary time to work through issues with their teams because it’s best for the team in the long run.

4. Do you feel secure in your role?

Most bosses are insecure, believing that at least one person on his or her team is untrustworthy. A boss will usually take credit for successes and place blame for failures. Winning and staying in control are their two most important objectives. Leaders are secure in their roles and in their ability to achieve certain objectives. They are confident enough to give credit to their team for a job well done and take responsibility when they lose business or miss an opportunity.

You can be a boss, you can be a leader, or you can be a boss who is also a great leader. Which will you choose? If you are looking for local staffing agencies, contact our team today.