“A leader is just and lives by example, while a boss just simply bosses around…”
The words “leader” and “boss” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are really quite different in terms of how they work with their employees, peers, and senior management. Although both signify someone on the top of the working pyramid and are the ones that others look to for direction, each one has its own distinctive definition.
A leader is someone who knows how to motivate and inspire; they have an open mind to suggestions and can handle criticism well. Because of their ability and character, they are respected and admired.
Bosses, on the other hand, are primarily respected because of their position and sometimes, seniority. They promote fear over their employees to ensure they perform and are often close-minded and inflexible.
Both leaders and bosses have authority within a department or company; only one is looked up to because of their quality and charisma, however, while the other is feared and not respected. Because of this, a leader is more effective than a boss. A leader’s authority and power are in the hands of the people, while a boss’ authority is not. It’s true that both will get results, but workers will typically be happier with a leader. The happier employees are, the more productive and loyal they are, resulting in more benefit for the company.
Here are other common differences between a boss and a leader:
If you end up in a management position, take some time to really evaluate how you want to supervise and what you want your legacy to be. Remember, a leader can be a boss, but a boss can rarely become a leader. What kind of person would you want to report to?
What are your thoughts? Do you have other suggestions or personal stories? Please feel free to ask questions or share your experiences below.
Jeremy joined Empathia (then NEAS) in 2007 as Manager, Client Care Services, then became an Account Manager/Sales Consultant in 2012. He is also a certified wellness and tobacco cessation coach. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Prior to joining Empathia, he spent 14 years in the EAP industry in a variety of roles with another behavioral healthcare organization. Jeremy enjoys reading, photography, music, and spending time with his wife and daughters.