are you a boss or leader

Are You A Boss Or A Leader? There’s A Big Difference

Did you know there is a big difference when it comes to being a leader vs. a boss? You may have been promoted to a managerial position and are a “boss” now, but this doesn’t automatically make you a leader.

As a manager, you oversee a team of employees, daily tasks and activities, and ensuring the operation is running smoothly. You’re in the hot seat to resolve everyday issues, hold employees accountable, and make sure the job is getting done.

The problem is… most managers are ineffective leaders, which results in unhappy employees and frequent turnover. The #1 reason people leave their jobs is because of a bad boss.

So what IS the difference between a boss and a leader? Here are a few examples:

1. Inspiration

A boss is all about power and control, demanding orders, and has an “I’m always right “ attitude. A leader is inspires the team to grow, learn, and succeed. A leader will recognize employee’s strengths and utilize them, while also helping to build up their weaknesses. He provides an environment for the employees to think for themselves and solve problems independently. Instead of being defensive, a leader is playing offense—helping his team become more productive and making situations better instead of placing blame when things go wrong.

2. Teaching

 A leader is always looking for a way to improve the team. If an employee is facing a roadblock and goes to the manager for a solution, a leader will help the employee troubleshoot the issue and demonstrate she has confidence in him, instead of just telling him exactly how to solve the problem. This teaching quality will give confidence to the employee that they can move forward, add value, and problem-solve on their own. Employees typically go to their manager with issues because they are uncertain about how their approach, not because they feel incompetent. Instead of instant direction, ask the employee if they have any ideas… sometimes they just need a bit of encouragement.

 3. Empower

 A boss micromanages and watches every move an employee makes. There isn’t trust in the team to do their job efficiently, and a boss will analyze every mistake and criticize. A true leader has confidence in his team, encourages them to have ideas and workflows of their own, and provides constructive feedback. The leader knows when he’s needed to solve an issue or make a decision, but he also knows when to step back. Food for thought: Are you always looking over your employee’s shoulder? Or do you trust them to get the job done and make yourself available for any questions that may arise?

As a good boss—a leader—you have to know when to let go and let your employees handle their own roles and responsibilities. Believe in them. Support them. Build them up and encourage. As a leader, it is your responsibility to help your team succeed. If you’re not helping them develop, grow, and reach their goals… you’re not doing your job.

Curious to see how you rank as a leader? Check out our WorkCompass Leadership Survey to discover your strengths and weaknesses in leadership.


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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