Leadership Traits: 3 Significant Differences Between A Boss and A Leader

June 10, 20161:45 pm1034 views

It’s easy to be a boss, but difficult to be a leader. It is important to not mince definitions but draw clear lines of differences between what makes for a boss and a true leader. A man perhaps having an authority in a company but no respect, influence or leading ability to their employees is “the boss”. However, if one could influence and lead a team, mentor and give sense of direction to their everyday workings without commanding a position of authority is the sign of a true leader. Every company has a boss, or perhaps some bosses but not all of them have leaders.

A HR professional, as an independent professional managing the human capital engagement and productivity, should be able to observe workings of teams and to notice without any colored lenses, if the team is being led by a boss or a leader.


  • A leader leads, a boss orders


Some of the employees might experience to be led by a leader and a boss. When a leader sets a target or vision of the company, he will direct the team to achieve it. Just like a battle, a leader stands in front of his thousand troops and leads the fight. This implies that a leader actively showcases his potentials and abilities to emerge from situations and how the employees can work in sync to achieve common goals. He does not merely give orders without prompt action.

Whereas, a boss loves to give orders, points his fingers to the team to do this and to do that. Meanwhile he is not available in the office, or available but not accessible to cooperate or discuss with the team. He is reluctant to showcase his work, guide and mentor the team. This leads to lack of cooperative efforts within the team, poor employee morale at work and inspiration to perform better.

See: Leadership Enablers: Establishing New Leader Model to Nurture Talent


  • A leader motivates, a boss terrifies


Ups and downs frequently happen in working, and these two kinds of senior positions react differently to situations on hand. A leader significantly tries to detect the issues that led to the problem, objectively support and simultaneously motivate the employees. A leader has exceeding optimism and positivity to handle the colleagues. He thinks for the team, takes responsibility and protects the team face no issues or be fired from the job, whereas obstacle is something out of control.

On the contrary, a boss takes short routes to resolve the employee concerns. Employees are frequently warned by bosses, as means to show supremacy, power, signs of authority and control employee behaviours at work. If this trick doesn’t work, then they strictly take things soon to level next to threaten employees of being fired from the job. Warning and threat is the simplest way to control somebody.


  • A leader treats all equally, a boss selectively chooses his favorites


As teams work in tandem and departments work in collaboration, everybody desires to be treated  equally with dignity and respect by a team leader. A leader would consistently treat the team equally and fair. Those from high to low levels within a company make their own contributions and are essential for the team.

Conversely, a boss selects his favourites and those members from the team, who are unimportant. Both leader and boss significantly create distinguished work environments and impact productivity, performance and morale of the employees.
As a HR professional, while you cannot totally protest and change the attitudes of somebody, especially those who are handling the helm of affairs within a company. People management is a skill that leaders possess and bosses disown. These 3 differences could clearly help HR professionals define and understand the leadership signs to determine – if you are a boss or a leader.

Also read: Attitudes of Women in Tech: Challenges to Leadership and Growth

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