Leaders and Bosses — Which One Are You?

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Leaders vs. Bosses: The Big Difference

At first glance, these two words seem interchangeable. Also, there are numerous cases in which an individual can be both simultaneously. However, at their very core, these two social roles have nothing in common. 

Primarily, you become a boss by simply taking on the position of authority, while you have to earn the title of the leader. Read the rest of the article to learn about the “boss and leader difference’’. 

When It Comes to Learning — Are You Apt to Adapt? 

Being a boss puts a person in a position that is governed by many rules, guidelines, and policies. A boss needs to follow these and subsequently make sure that their subordinates comply. This chain of command can make the figure of authority assume they are always right. After all, all they need to do is enforce the rules by any means possible, and the team will work. 

Unfortunately, such a stern approach can create various difficulties. Mainly, if the system has a recurring problem, if it makes workers dissatisfied, or creates unsatisfactory results, blind enforcement of rules will reinforce the issues.  

What separates a leader from pushing the same old is the ability to continue learning. By being able to gain new insights, leaders will approach old problems with a fresh perspective and, in return, find more practical solutions. If leaders are willing to self-improve, it can also be an incentive for their subordinates to do as well. In the end, the whole group will develop.

When It Comes to Communication —  The Importance of Listening

The key difference between being a boss vs. being a leader is the capacity to hear your people out. Spewing out orders can be easily mistaken for communication. The thing is that issuing commands is a one-way street. A boss figure can give lengthy speeches and think they provide clear instructions. It’s no wonder why some people eventually fall in love with the sound of their voice.  

Nevertheless, one can give out a hundred detailed orders, but if they are not reasonable, they won’t work. In the end, these commanders get angry when the results are not as planned.

Leaders, on the other hand, value and cherish feedback. They don’t turn a deaf ear to the comments of their colleagues. A good manager will know to give a chance for their subordinates to express their opinions. It can turn out they have a better understanding of what’s at hand. They may point out the unrealistic expectations and whether the task is feasible or not. In return, a leader can then change their plan and avoid further problems.

[The Power Of Listening: Why It Means and Why It Matters]

When It Comes to Questions — Show Don’t Tell

Let’s be honest. Bosses can be stretched thin. Managing several projects and putting out fires, they need to have a clear list of priorities and time management. So it is expected that, in some cases, they won’t have enough time and will lack the focus to provide the best answer to the question from their subordinates. Nevertheless, the issue becomes problematic when this becomes a default practice. 

Bosses might think their job is done when they provide any sort of answer. Still, it’s a better option than disregarding the question. Be it as it may, when people ask questions, often they don’t need specific info, but they ask for guidance. 

A leader will know to discern which question can be resolved with a simple email and which one needs a hands-on approach. For many people, answers without special guidance can be as equally effective as if they were in a foreign language. In this respect, leaders will follow the old adage: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

When It Comes to Coaching — A Pat on the Back Is Worth Thousand Whips 

A few constructive criticisms can go a long way, but if criticizing is all you do, you might consider changing your tune. Constant drawing of attention to shortcomings and mistakes can make the working community feel inadequate. That can lead to a general fall in morale and productivity since workers perceive themselves as incapable of resolving issues themselves.

In the end, strict bosses are confused why the results get worse and worse, while they are doing all they can to point out the mistakes. It stands to reason that it must be the worker’s fault, so the only solution is to discipline them harder.

Psychologists have proven that positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative reinforcement. People generally thrive with compliments, while pointing out their downsides lead to underperformance. Experienced leaders have learned this truth through practice, and they practice it intuitively. They will offer their trainees encouragement, reassurance, and additional boost when they’re down.

[The Psychology of Positive Reinforcement]

When It Comes to Dealing With Problems — You Are in the Team Not above It

When someone bosses around their subordinates, they can develop a false impression that they are above them. No one will deny that a chain of command is important, but bosses are not an independent unit, exempt from the results that their team makes. If things go south, many authority figures are quick to point the blame towards the people under them. 

As tempting as it is to pass the hot potato to others and throw your people under the bus. Even if you save your hide, your reputation will suffer, and you will lose respect from the rest of your team. If you position yourself against your workers, they are more likely to act against you.

Leaders don’t try to rise above their group, but rather they make it clear that they are an equal member of the unit. If the push comes to shove, they will step up and take responsibility for the actions of their employees. This shows your subordinates that you value them and that they are not expendable. In the end, this will develop bonds of loyalty and responsibility and consequently productivity.  

Are You a Boss or a Leader?

This is a difficult question. We all would like to think we are leaders, but more often than not, we fall into the role of a boss. However, we need to be mindful of our general leading style and improve on it. Next time when you are in a managerial situation, ask yourself — Does bossing around have any positive effects?  

If the answer is no, don’t blame others, but think about how you can change your leading style. There are certainly talented leaders who do it effortlessly and intuitively, and to some, guiding others might be difficult. But don’t worry, leading, like any other skill, can be learned and honed. You just need to take the first step and decide to be a leader for the benefit of your team.