A Boss And A Leader Are Different

Not every boss is a leader, but every leader is a boss.  The biggest difference between a boss and a leader is that the boss is given respect and his/her orders are carried out because of his/her position.  A leader is respected and looked up to as an example because of his/her abilities and qualities of character.

Anyone who aspires to be a leader must learn to lead by example.  The team needs to know that the leader will be there during every crisis to help fix the problem and not to blame someone for the problem.

If team members discover that the leader does not follow what he/she preaches they will lose respect for him/her.  The team members may follow this person because they must, but they will have no respect for him/her.  Leaders gain the respect of their team members by their actions.  They look and act sincerely.  There is no mismatch between their words and actions.

Characteristics a great leader possesses include being a good listener, showing appreciation, being a role model, having a vision and being enthusiastic, being organized, knowledgeable and credible.  A leader should be able to team build, should have a clarity of purpose, should have the ability to solve problems, to lead by example, have patience, be consistent, adapt to change and empower the team members.


All the aforementioned skills relate to the human side of leadership.  Some people think leading in this fashion is “soft”, but applying these characteristics requires a great deal of strength on the part of the leader.

Characteristics which do not work well for a leader are being stern, short tempered, too serious, vindictive, angry harsh, tough, punitive, violent or controlling.  These are all examples of “hard” leadership characteristics.  Using these techniques are people who lack the skills or strength to apply the human side of leadership.

If a boss wants to be a leader he/she must display characteristics such as planning, knowledge, anticipation, foresight, action, and result oriented approach.  A leader needs to respect every team member and, in turn, needs to earn their respect.  A good leader should act as a mentor to his team members.  Once a person earns the respect of his/her team members then he/she ceases being only a boss and is transformed into a leader.

How do you rate yourself as a leader when you compare yourself with the characteristics needed for a good leader?   What would your team members say about your leadership skills?  Can you become more effective by applying more of the “soft” type characteristics of leadership and less of the “hard” characteristics of leadership?

People want leaders who treat them with courtesy, respect and genuine compassion.  They want leaders who will help them become more successful.  Team members will work best when they feel their leader is behind them.  When the team members respect their leader the team members will work to the best of their ability to make the group effort successful in accomplishing the goal set out for them..