Boss vs Leader

The difference Boss vs Leader

There is a lot of perceived conflicts between a leader and a boss.  This doesn’t have to be the case. The truth is leadership is more organic. Leaders don’t need a title to become leaders. Even rank-and-file team members who are making the same amount of money as other lower-ranked team members can be leaders.

Leadership is a personal attribute.  A boss, on the other hand, is a role.  A boss occupies a certain level in the hierarchy. There are fixed expectations surrounding a boss. This is the big difference and it is extremely important to understand that this difference can play out in a dramatic contrast of management styles.

A boss command. A leader often follows first, collaborates and then mobilizes. They both get to the same destination, but a leader has a lot more tools under his disposal. A boss simply states the directive and gives people the leeway to achieve those directives. It’s more formal. A leader, on the other hand, can achieve the objective not just by telling people what to do, but also by following people, rallying them together and persuading them towards a certain goal.

Bosses manage, leaders are driven by vision

Bosses tend to have a more fixed role. They deal with resources that they have and marshal those resources to increase the likelihood of certain outcomes.  A leader, on the other hand, provides vision in addition to explicit management roles. This vision can come from him or this vision can be merely adopted from a directive that came from the top.

Bosses control, leaders guide

There is no messing around with a boss.  If you don’t follow your boss, chances are you won’t have a job for too long. That’s the bottom line. There is a high level of compulsion when you’re dealing with a boss. Either you follow your boss or you’re committing insubordination. If you commit insubordination one too many times and your boss finally has had enough of your insubordination, you can get booted from your job.

A leader, on the other hand, focuses more on inspiring people through their example and their guidance. This is not really a question of soft versus hard approach. A boss has one key advantage over a leader. Since leaders are not always titular or high up in the hierarchy with expressed authority, they have to use “softer” methods of persuasion and control.

Bosses don’t have to mess around with any of that. You have to follow your boss. Your boss knows this. This is why they have a tremendous amount of control. This contrast is quite stark in terms of style, but the overall objective is the same.  Real effective bosses do not wield their authority like a club. They do not beat people over the head with it.  They’re not harsh like that.

Instead, they use guidance. They try to lead by example. This doesn’t always work and that’s why bosses have a leg up on natural leaders because, by virtue of their rank, position and authority they can always compel people to do what they say.

Is there a Good or Bad?

Bosses are good for bringing order and stability. Bosses, at the very least, bring in quite a bit of structure to an otherwise chaotic and freewheeling team. This is especially helpful when your team is composed of individuals with strong personalities or ingrained work habits. These different work habits may not fit smoothly with other team members’ work habits.  Bosses are able to lay down the law, provide a starting base for further refinement of the team’s objectives and goals.

Leaders bring a lot of value to the table because they teach a sense of purpose. They lead by example and they can help smooth out the rough edges. The downside with leaders is that since they often don’t have the express authority of a boss, they have to step on eggshells for some time or beat around the bush to eventually get people to their side.

The good news is if they’re able to do this after a lot of effort and time, it’s very hard to erode their authority. Also, people follow leaders because they focus on shared goals. Leaders also focus on camaraderie and team spirit.

There is really no good or bad in this juxtaposition of bosses and leaders. Bosses are great because they bring instant structure. They bring instant order. However, it’s a good idea for bosses to use their leadership skills to build on the instant results their title brings to the table.

Bosses either punish or reward to get things done, leaders use influence

Bosses use the structure of the organization to get things done. They can compel people to do things. Why?  If team members don’t follow the boss, there will be negative consequences.  At the very least, somebody would get written up. At the very worst, team members can lose their jobs.  This snaps people into line.

Whether you like bosses or not, it doesn’t matter. You have to follow them or else there will be consequences. This is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to establish a baseline for the team’s operations. Once the baselines are set, then bosses should be encouraged to use their leadership skills to influence team members to get things done.

Ultimately, the focus of the team should be to transition from a purely compulsory model that is heavily dependent on titles and bosses to a leadership model. This is crucial because in the eyes of an owner, a boss gets short-term yet necessary results. These are great for shorter projects.  However, company owners and executives would prefer leaders for big-picture projects or long-term projects.

There is really no good or bad.  It all depends on the context.  But when it comes to getting short-term results and quickly establishing order, bosses make a lot of sense. In certain industries, however, especially the ones that deal with tremendous amount of creativity, a leadership-based form of management is more appropriate. In a creative environment, things are more freewheeling and there is a lot more interplay of ideas required. Therefore, managing artists require cultivating a sense of ownership.

You see, dealing with creative people is like herding cats. It can be done, but it’s very difficult.  Each cat has a mind of its own. The same with creative employees. If you’re dealing with artists, it’s too easy for bosses to just throw their hands up in the air in frustration. This is where a leadership-based style of management is crucial.  Once you get your creative team members to develop a sense of ownership, this will push them to work harder and produce more consistent results.

The bottom line

Bosses expect people to fill a role. they give people some leeway within that role, but ultimately, the issue is whether a person lived up to his role or not. leaders, on the other hand, seek to marshal people emotionally. once we get a sense of ownership, things start to work. the issue here is one of context: If I was a business owner who has a short-term goal that needs to be taken care of quickly, it’s best to focus on boss-type management.  However, if the business is more creative or has longer time-lines, then the owner or executive team would be better served if they apply the more holistic and long-term leadership-based management system and philosophy.

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