Boss vs. Leader

Organizations today are led by either a boss or a leader. The two terms may seem similar but there are key differences that separate one from the other. Understanding these differences solves subtle and underlying problems a manager often overlooks. If left unnoticed, these problems can cause major issues within the business.

Think of an organization as a human body, the way it works, its functions, and how you take care of it can mean the difference between life and death. This is where management styles come into play. It’s what differentiates a healthy living body (organization) from one that is just surviving. 

And trust me, you’d want to live rather than just survive.

Businesses run by both bosses and leaders can look successful in terms of reaching goals and looking well organized. However, the internal processes and how the people within an organization are totally different depending on the environment.

What Makes a Great Leader?

A great leader has compassion, inspiration, and vision. These leadership traits drive the organization from within and build genuine resilience when faced with problems. Leaders understand how organizations really work and are proactive in preventing issues before they even arise.

Employees wholeheartedly follow leaders because they feel genuine concern from their leader. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is consistency. Great leaders always think in the long term so they make sure that whatever they do is consistent with the vision they plan.

The effects of a great leader in an organization are felt by everyone both within and outside the business. This is why leaders often seek to develop their management style by starting with themselves. They know that in order to fully succeed as a leader, they must resolve issues with their current self.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you be a leader without being a manager?
    • You can. The fact that you can influence the people around you to become the better versions of themselves, personally or at work, is a sign of being a leader. In the same manner, you can be a manager without being a leader which is ineffective in terms of personal and organizational growth.
  • How can I develop as a leader?
    • Everything develops through practice. Consistent reflection on your leadership style can result into a better understanding of the essence of leadership. Of course, simply knowing what needs to be improved is not enough. You must also take action on these improvements. 
  • Which leadership style works best?
    • It would depend on a number of factors such as your team’s culture, goals, and interdependence as well as the member’s functions and attitude. Ultimately having the right style is essential to maximize a group’s efficiency. 

How to Tell a Boss from a Leader?


Leaders are proactive in facing events that require their attention. They solve the problems and think ahead on how to prevent these problems from reoccurring.  Bosses are reactive when faced with certain occurrences. They think that solving a problem is enough and they could solve it once it happens again.


Bosses often become toxic when they abuse the employee-manager relationship. They often take credit for the team’s work and only compensate the group’s effort to a bare minimum. Leaders, on the other hand, knows the value of the group members and give full credit to where it is due. 


Whether it’s something positive or negative. Leaders show accountability for their actions and the results of these actions. They are ready to face the consequences without second thoughts. Bosses redirect the blame to the team and let the team take fix it with minimal help.


Leaders are aware of what they need to improve and what they’re good at. They are grounded and humble to what they need to develop often from the constant reflection on their leadership style. Bosses have hubris and are often overconfident. They don’t see pain points in their style.


Leaders are compassionate towards their team. Gentle leaders understand the needs and goals of every member and include that in the objective of the business. Bosses are hyper-objective when it comes to their employees. They want to achieve business goals at all costs.


Great leaders build credibility for themselves, their members, and the business as a whole. Identifying leaders, the potential in leaders is one step towards achieving long-term business goals. Now ask yourself, are you a boss or a leader?

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