Almost everyone has had a bad boss at some point in their career. Bad managers appear to be everywhere, from making unrealistic demands to blaming you for their faults. You aspire to be a genuine leader. You want to motivate your staff while still achieving outcomes. You want to know the difference between a boss and a leader – and how to lead regardless of your official title
The terms "boss" and "leader" are frequently used interchangeably, however, they are not synonymous. A sales manager, creative director, or regional manager is an example of a boss with a defined title and role. These positions grant a person authority and the ability to make decisions over others. Bosses are frequently associated with directing and overseeing work.
The truth is that some bosses are just that: bosses. They've climbed the corporate ladder to the top of the management ladder. They have a nice office and a parking spot reserved for them. They make decisions that affect the company's direction and frequently have control over how money is spent. None of this, however, qualifies them as a leader.
The good news is that bosses can become leaders, and for those who wish to lead effectively in the workplace, this should be a top focus. Bosses may become the type of leaders that recruit and retain top talent while also encouraging employee growth and enhancing a company's bottom line by knowing the main differences and applying them on the job.
So, how do you tell the difference between a boss and a leader? The following list highlights some important differences between the two.
1. Leaders lead, bosses push
Have you ever worked for someone who was a micromanager? They seem to have complete control over every detail and always instruct you what to do and how to do it. This is a typical "boss": they talk more than they listen, assigning chores, issuing instructions, and criticizing others. Employees are more likely to be pushed than directed by their bosses. Because this type of management rarely makes choices, staff are left to work without direction or expectations while their boss hides behind a wall of passivity.
However, true leaders frequently propose ideas to their employees and collaborate with them. They convey goals to the team clearly and concisely, and their activities are directed toward accomplishing those goals as a group. This is the difference between motivating and losing team members' respect. When a group has faith in a leader, it can help to strengthen team culture and encourage people to participate.
2. Leaders connect, bosses speak
Instead of talking over their staff, good leaders spend time listening to them. They recognize the need to soliciting and incorporating other people's perspectives into the decision-making process. Leaders are also aware of the power of language: how you use it influences the emotions you experience and the emotions you provoke in others. Leaders utilize language to transform negative, self-defeating speech into positive, powerful speech. You can shift your focus or the attention of someone you want to influence by modifying your words, positively affecting their emotional triad, and empowering them for greater achievement.
Bosses tend to dominate discussions. Employees are expected to listen and carry out their orders with little or no guidance. This is not a good way to establish a team of engaged employees who want to be recognized for their knowledge and abilities.
4. Bosses dominate, leaders collaborate
Bosses frequently do more than direct your actions. They instruct you on how to do it, when to do it, and who to consult about it. They aren't receptive to new ideas or methods of operation. They believe they know best, and their rigid approach allows little room for argument or exploration. The phrase "It's my way or the highway" is taken very seriously by bosses.
Leaders understand that in today's world, firms must be adaptable to succeed in the long run. The task of a leader is approached through innovation and teamwork. Because change is the driving force and the leader's vision is the focal point, the strategy is to transform and shake things up. It's not about coming up with the most efficient routines and keeping to the methods that have been demonstrated to be the most effective. The notion is to find new and equally good ways to accomplish things.
5. Bosses want to profit, leaders, want to change
A boss has a responsibility to ensure that the organization achieves the best financial outcomes possible to ensure the company's survival. That explains the boss's desire to oversee the completion of tasks. The boss is unconcerned about how his employees go from point A to point B because the result is all that matters. The boss is pleased to meet the objectives and do it promptly, as this ensures that the company makes a profit. Because a boss may be accountable to others, just as their subordinates are to them, the boss's focus is on attaining the goals. If the boss is unable to motivate their subordinates to complete duties and produce financial outcomes, their job may be jeopardized. In other words, a boss is more concerned with the outcome than with the process.
A leader, on the other hand, is focused on transforming people and organizations. For a leader, the ideal condition is to bring about change, to transform the organization from A to B. The goal is to realize the vision they have for the organization. The vision is always transformative, and greater financial results are never the end goal but rather a side effect of the process. The leader is concerned with the development of their subordinates as employees and individuals. Instead of focusing on the result, the leader will be more concerned with the process and the people involved.
6. Bosses blame, leaders take responsibility
The way the two roles share accountability in the group and the condition of responsibility reveals the significant difference between being a boss and being a leader.
When a boss delegated responsibility, the individual executing the specific tasks became accountable. Because the responsibility is shared, subordinates may bear the brunt of the blame when things go wrong. Because of the strict procedures and emphasis on standards, the boss may have an easy time identifying the person at fault. If there is a failure, someone did not follow the boss's processes in the proper order. When it comes to failure, a boss's first instinct is to look for the person or technician to blame.
Surprisingly, when it comes to success, a boss does not share as much responsibility. Failure is attributed to a failure to follow the rules, but success is attributed to excellent procedures. The attention is on the procedures, not the subordinates who carried them out. When success occurs, the boss has succeeded in developing the ideal methods.
A leader, on the other hand, bears complete responsibility for their actions. While the leader will delegate responsibilities and make decisions with the help of their employees, the leader will be held accountable for any failures. The leader will concentrate on determining whether something could have been done better.
In addition, rather than thinking it was all down to them, a leader will share the victory with the team. A leader recognizes that the entire team must work efficiently and that everyone is a vital member of the team; success is not accomplished by a single person but by teamwork.
It's also worth noting that a boss and a leader have different approaches to obtaining success. Because the employer isn't interested in changing the status quo, the focus is on the following procedure and developing an administrative leadership style. A leader, on the other hand, is always looking for ways to improve and modify things. Simon Sinek once said, "A boss has the title, a leader has the people". This leaves us with one question in mind, "Are you a boss or a leader?"
Nolwazi Mlala is a Business Analytics Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.
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