Often times, modern society mistakes the definition of a boss and a leader. We’ve somehow conflated the concepts when in fact the two prove to be entirely separate entities. We throw around the term “a born leader” in reference to a boss far too often, ignoring the most basic differences within the two terms’ denotations.
A boss employs and superintends workers, watching and supervising to ensure the job gets done. A leader brings with it a quality of inspiration, offering guidance. No, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but are by no means one in the same. Leaders create teams of people who actually wish to be led. They are not muddled in the game of money as a primary motivating factor. They are there because they have an impassioned stake in it.
They love what they do and have the vision and guidance that separates them from the others. They have the quality that makes people listen; they have the quality to inspire. When a boss is just a boss, this catalyzing force is missing – his employees are miserable, present for a paycheck and won’t answer an email after 5:01.
A boss in its most basic form is just a figure of supervision. On the whole, the position is overbearing. In the ancient adage of showing vs. telling, bosses are mired in barking orders where leaders motivate.
I have worked for bosses before the experience was miserable; I hated the way they ran their operation without any respect for the people that were there, treating them like peons. I have also worked for leaders and they are some of the most incredible experiences, I never wanted to leave work because it was a joy working there.
Now that I own my own company, I have realized the difference between a boss and a leader, after working for so many in the past. Leaders are born to be so, it is their destiny and it is in their blood, it is quite hard to shape one without the support of another leader. You need to be a leader in your life, not a boss -- and here are the key differences you must understand: a boss only sees things in black and white, while the leader acknowledges the grey.
A boss is just as lazy as his employees; he will do the bare minimum to get the company by and will only look at the black and white. He won't look deeper because that passion and ambition isn’t there. He is just focused on scratching the surface -- nothing more and nothing less. A leader will take a deeper look inside, he wants to see everything and know everything.
A boss likes to tell, while the leader prefers to teach
If you have ever worked for a boss, you were miserable because you were told what to do and not given any room to flourish. A leader understands that the people around him must be creative and think on their own, so he teaches them to do so and builds them up to make them feel like they are special and in charge. A boss likes being on a pedestal, above the fray, while the leader likes to be among those they lead.
Bosses love to have their own office with a closed door, away from everyone else, it empowers them and makes them feel like they are better than the others. Leaders are inside the pit, they go where their army goes and are there to fight right alongside them.
A boss gets lost in the details, while the leader keeps the big picture
Bosses are the guys who love to waste time talking and not doing. They love talking about a problem and its details rather than figuring out solutions. Leaders always keep the big picture and the goal in mind. They never make a move unless it benefits the primary goal.
A boss rules by fear, while the leader inspires with trust
Bosses think it is smart to make others fear them, so that they can work harder for them when, in reality, it is the other way around. When you rule by fear, the people are miserable and hate working there. Fear inspires nothing and makes employees second-guess themselves. Leaders inspire with trust, they place their trust in those around them and allow them to make decisions on their own, which makes sense because they are confident about them.
A boss displays great hubris, while the leader shows quiet humility
Bosses are extroverts; they like to be the center of attention, take all the credit and be arrogant because it makes them feel superior to others. Leaders show quiet humility, they move in silence and their only goal is to get the job done, not be the poster boy.
A boss likes to talk, while the leader prefers to listen
Bosses feel like it’s either their way or no way. They are stubborn and they want to do most of the talking. Leaders listen because they know what other people are saying and are thinking is invaluable in order to improve and evolve their own ideas.
A boss wants to dictate, while the leader would rather collaborate
A boss looks at himself at the leader of the pack, they are the dictators and the ones that hand off tasks and just check in on them. Leaders collaborate on tasks rather than just giving them out. They want to help make the process easier and to teach along the way because there is more value in teaching someone.
A boss outlines the “what,” while the leader also always explains the “why”
It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it. Bosses rule people who are just there for the check, what they do is their job and they clock in and they clock out. Leaders explain why they do something and get those around them to believe in the why, in the vision. He makes them want to help the leader excel as much as possible, because they trust him and believe in him.
A boss thinks first about profit, while the leader thinks first about people
Bosses are selfish; they will only care about company profit and the money that goes into their own pocket. A leader cares about making those around him happy because without his team he would be nowhere. So he makes sure he does everything in his power to keep them happy and motivated to give it all they’ve got.
A boss is a disabler, while the leader is an enabler
A boss will put you down when you've done something wrong. He will tell you that it is your problem and that you have to go figure it out. A leader will enable you with a solution and help you get there rather than bringing you down and making you feel weak.
A boss criticizes, while the leader coaches
A boss will find something wrong with everything; they are never happy because they feel that no one can accomplish something that is perfect aside from them. They will criticize everything and anything. A leader coaches, he will point out the stronger points first and will build on them to help balance the weaker ones.
A boss manages to an end, while the leader serves for a purpose
A boss’ end is money, nothing more and nothing less. It’s simply all they care about and it’s all they are driven by. A leader is driven by a purpose beyond the money, it’s a greater cause and that is what inspires those around him.
A boss demotivates with impassiveness; while a leader inspires with care and empathy, a boss doesn’t care about those around him, they are all replaceable and anything that is going on in their lives doesn’t concern him. A leader inspires by caring and being there for those who are there for them.
These are the key differences between a boss and a leader. If you are currently in the workforce, position yourself under a leader and not a boss. If you are miserable at work, then you work for a boss. If you enjoy what you do and it doesn’t even feel like work, you are in the presence of a leader. You need to mold yourself into a leader and understand that leaders are the pioneers of this world, not the bosses.
Preston Waters | Elite.