Are You a Leader or a Boss?

by Granville Triumph

Everything discussed in this blog, from managing change to sound business judgment to reviewing business goals, is dependent on strong leadership. Without a true leader at the helm, an organization will lack a cohesive vision, direction and strategy, all of which will then be defined and divided by groups or individuals throughout the company.

The value of leadership is clear. But what is a leader? What makes a great leader?

Many executives fail the leadership test because they spend too much time acting like a boss and not enough time leading. A leader and a boss may be able to achieve similar outcomes, but how those outcomes are reached will determine whether or not the senior executive is trusted, respected and admired, internally and externally.

Think about the perception of the terms “boss” and “leader.” Historically, a boss has often been associated with corruption, crime and fear. A true leader is traditionally revered and viewed as an inspiring, noble figure by both employees and the general public. In this case, stereotypes and perceptions are largely accurate.

Here are key characteristics that distinguish a leader from a boss.

A boss seeks to improve performance through scare tactics, intimidation and threats. A leader seeks to improve performance through motivation, support and recognition.

A boss gives orders and demands results. A leader establishes a plan and monitors progress to ensure that goals are met.

A boss scolds and sometimes humiliates. A leader offers constructive criticism and feedback.

A boss looks for someone to blame. A leader is accountable.

A boss knows everything and expects to be followed blindly. A leader never stops learning or teaching and earns the loyalty of employees.

A boss expects employees to show up and do their jobs quietly. A leader encourages employees to question and improve upon the status quo through collaboration.

A boss only cares about the “who” and the “what.” A leader focuses on the “how” and the “why.”

A boss is focused on profit. A leader knows the keys to profit are people and process.

Put yourself in the position of an employee. Who would you rather work for – the boss or the leader? Who is more likely to earn your trust and loyalty? Who will inspire you to be more engaged and productive? Who will make you want to contribute to the long-term success of the organization? Who will support the professional growth of each individual? Who makes you feel like you’re working to pick up a paycheck, and who makes you feel like you’re working to accomplish something meaningful?

Put yourself in the position of an outside professional. Who would make the better business partner? Who will listen to your ideas? Who would you prefer to stand side-by-side with you at a press conference? Who would you rather work for? Who would you confidently refer to fellow professionals?

The difference is clear. Be a leader and inspire people to succeed, not a boss who makes people fear failure.


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