We hear a lot about bosses and leaders, but what actually is the difference?

Take a look at the graphic below and you’ll see the contrast between these two roles.

One half depicts a boss being pulled by their team, effectively adding extra weight and hindering those up front from making any progress; while the other half shows a leader pulling their own weight, allowing the team to move forward and progress towards the shared goal more freely.

What are the Differences?

Essentially, a leader helps the team with their work and works out front to lead by example rather then taking the ‘do as I say’ approach.

This is a great metaphor for understanding good leadership vs bad management, but it only really scratches the surface when trying to understand the differences between a boss and a leader – and there are a fair few!

Below is a list of just some of the contrasts between the two.


What Makes a Great Leader?

Now that we understand the core differences between a boss and a leader, it’s time to look at how to be the best leader possible.

Below are just a few ideas that will get you started on your journey to refining your management skills:

  • Lead by example. Employees need to see you willing to put in the work that you expect them to do – otherwise, they’ll just feel like you’re delegating all the tasks that you don’t want to them. This doesn’t just stop with business work – if the bins need changing, be sure to pitch in with that too!
  • Don’t single people out. Focus on situations, behaviour and facts – never an individual. If you want to give praise or criticise, it should always be work related.
  • Keep it practical. Where feedback is warranted – good or bad – make sure to stick to the facts and keep your comments relevant. Rather than ‘you’re so funny, people love it!’, try ‘your ability to empathise with the customer is valuable”.
  • Keep lines of communication open.  Have regular staff meetings. Invite questions, and thank people for asking them. Give credit where credit is due. Inform people of how appreciated their work is on a regular basis, not just at review time. If you’re always talking to them, nothing will be a surprise, whether it’s praise or a pep talk about challenging situations.
  • Discipline isn’t bad. Many managers shy away from talking to employees about inconsistency. What they don’t take into account is that allowing employees to continue to perform poorly is guaranteeing they will be fired. Don’t look at it as discipline – look at it as coaching, or a discussion about their challenge areas. Everyone deserves the chance to fix a mistake. Hiding it from them doesn’t help you or them in the long run.
  • Encourage ownership by delegation. Employees love a company when they feel they have some sort of say in how things are done. It doesn’t matter how minor that contribution is, if they can lay claim to a piece of it their work performance and happiness will be affected in a great way.  Ask for opinions on future projects, and whenever possible take all or even small amounts of their feedback and work it into the system. Give them small independent tasks to perform and take the time to explain why it’s so important. When they do well, give them praise, and follow up in a week or so to show them the numbers and how what they did affected the business that week

These simple ideas are incredibly effective at bringing your team together to work with you to drive your business forward.  What do you think makes a good boss?  Tell us in the comments section below!