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What Separates A Boss From A Leader?

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Team sumHR
May 7, 2015

Managing a team is never easy. Influencing a number of individuals to work efficiently towards a common goal can be a tough task. Of course, you can try to impose your authority over the subordinates but that would never bring out the best in them. You would want the job done well rather than it just being done, wouldn’t you?

According to a study conducted by Towers Watson & Co., those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7% over the same period. So how can one engage employees who may not necessarily be the most diligent? Well, there isn’t any scientific answer for that. But one way of achieving this is by being a leader and not a boss. This may sound oversimplified but here are few points to help you analyze if you’re an authoritarian boss or an inspirational leader?

A boss would demand results while a leader will help you achieve them

Everyone wants results. Efforts are of no use if they do not reap results. So while your team might be working really hard, they may not be able to achieve desired results due to lack of guidance. It is a leader’s primary duty to coach the team for the role, explain the vision he/she has in mind and show them how to work towards it.

For a leader, the team comes first

Being in charge, can make one self-centred at times. A typical boss would often place himself before the team; making them work around his schedule, taking sole credit for successful projects etc. This can be highly demotivating for the subordinates. After all, their role is not that of feeding their boss's ego. A leader on the other hand, values his team and give them due credit to let them know their importance.

A boss has the last word; a leader encourages opinions

This is a typical trait of a boss. Such people fail to realize that sometimes you can get the most ingenious ideas from the most unexpected sources. Even tweaking your strategies with inputs from your subordinates can make a huge difference to the end result. So, right from the smallest of group activities to the biggest of business strategies, it's really beneficial to ask for the team’s opinion.

A boss would highlight problems; a leader helps you find solutions

Nothing can be more frustrating than a nagging and nitpicking boss. It's perfectly normal to make mistakes and get stuck sometimes. But if someone constantly keeps pointing to the problem without offering any help, finding a solution becomes much more difficult. A leader, on the contrary, would take up the problem and help you fix it. At the end of the day, the problem is solved and the team member who made the mistake learns how to tackle such a situation.

A leader does not believe in hierarchy

Some people believe following a hierarchical system is essential for smooth functioning of work. Which is true to a certain extent. But following it rigidly can cause major problems in internal communication. A leader would want each of his team members to feel equally important which helps build their confidence. Besides, following a flat hierarchy also helps solve a lot of time. A boss on the other hand would want his employees to get an ‘approval’ on even the smallest of things; showing no confidence in the individuals.

A boss is threatening; a leader is welcoming

According to a survey conducted by, 30% of workers who plan to leave their current jobs would change their mind if they were able to work under a different boss or management team. This is mainly because some bosses are just too difficult to approach. May it be a grievance, strategies, expressing of ideas or just a casual chat. Sometimes the employees just want to be heard by their boss. An ideal leader would encourage such conversations.

For a boss, employee engagement is a waste of time

Some people really underestimate the vitality of employee engagement. It can reap some really surprising results and boost productivity. A boss would find this unnecessary and avoid such deviation from work. What he/she fails to understand is that sometimes a team lunch or an outing can work wonders for team bonding.

A boss dictates the employees; a leader tries to learn from the employees

No matter how successful one may become, a wise person never stops learning. A leader would never miss an opportunity to learn something from his team. This would help him grow and add to his skills set. While a boss would be too ignorant to think of such a thing.

Being a dominating boss will only make things more difficult. So, be a leader and inspire those working under you to bring out the best in them.

We hope you liked this article. Comment below to let us know what you think about it or if there’s something else you would like us to write about.

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Team sumHR
SumHR is a flexible and configurable end-to-end HR Software/HRMS which help HR teams automate the HR Processes, and improve the employee's HR experience.
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