Are You a Boss or a Leader?

Are you a boss who is hoping to become a better leader? The world is full of bosses who aren’t great leaders as well as everyday leaders who don’t happen to hold the title of boss.

Here are the top characteristics of bosses vs. leaders.

A Boss:

  • Is interested in prestige, rank and perks
  • Uses authority and power to get things done
  • Only cares about results
  • Expects employees to listen and do as they are told
  • Sees employees as needing to be managed
  • Fails to view employees as unique individuals
  • Ignores employees or only points out problems
  • Knows little to nothing about employees’ lives outside of work
  • Acts as though they have all the answers
  • Blocks out negative feedback to protect their ego
  • Talks more than listens
  • Places blame when something goes wrong

A Leader:

  • Is interested in serving the team
  • Clears roadblocks and inspires workers to get things done
  • Shows employees how their work makes a difference
  • Expects employees to ask questions and offer better solutions
  • Trusts their team and empowers them to make decisions
  • Helps employees to grow into their natural strengths
  • Notices progress and personal achievements even if they are minor
  • Knows about employees’ families, interests and personal struggles
  • Admits they don’t have all the answers
  • Welcomes positive and negative feedback and works to improve
  • Listens more than talks
  • Accepts responsibility when something goes wrong

How Can You Improve Your Leadership Skills?

Of course, no one ever said being a boss was easy. And, even the best leaders will need to use their power and authority to get things done every now and then. However, if you are hoping to lead rather than boss, here are some basic steps to help you along the path.

Focus on Service
Certainly, leadership comes with perks and privilege, but a leader’s primary responsibility is taking care of others. As entrepreneur and author Christine Comaford writes, “Stepping up to be a leader isn’t about getting anything for yourself… The more influential you become, the more you are putting yourself at the service of your team.”

Empower Your Workers
Rather than resorting to command-oriented management, leaders believe in their workers and give them something to work toward. Trust and inspiration are a powerful combination. Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google, comments, “If you give people freedom, they will surprise, delight, and amaze you.”     

Show Your Human Side
Bosses who present themselves as infallible and expect their employees to never make mistakes are setting up everyone for disappointment. People have different strengths and different weaknesses. Leadership isn’t about perfection. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella puts this best, “Leadership is about bringing out the best in everyone.”  

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