When climbing the career ladder, the goal is often to become the boss. But how many of us aspire to be a leader? Although being a leader or a boss sounds the same, the characteristics of each are considerably different. When we talk about sports teams or governments, we talk about leaders and leadership qualities to guide us through adversity. Can the same be said for a boss? Here, we take a look at what separates a leader from a boss and the leadership qualities involved.
To understand the separation, it’s important to understand the leadership qualities of a leader and how they differ from a boss. Bosses can be leaders, but it often takes years of experience to get to that point. Furthermore, it sometimes takes working under a poor boss to understand the leadership styles and qualities needed to become a great influencer or manager.
79% of employees will quit their jobs due to a lack of appreciation from leaders. That’s a sombre statistic, and one some bosses should remember when trying to manage their team. So, with that in mind, here are some of the qualities that make up a great manager – and separate a leader from a boss.
Whereas a boss would focus on managing employees, a leader will inspire them to achieve. This breeds innovation, creativity, and pride in their work. A boss will instruct and move employees around, instead of empowering the team. Power and control are the hallmarks of a boss, whereas a leader can persuade and influence through inspiration and motivation.
A leader will be more inclined to motivate staff through encouragement and support, offering constructive feedback. With positive reinforcement and well-thought-out feedback, an employee will be more motivated to give 100% effort in their work. On the other hand, a boss would criticise and berate instead of working on a solution with the team to improve for future instances. This promotes negativity and a lack of motivation in the team.
A positive leadership quality is the reaction to new ideas. A leader will take on board comments from the team, opening a discussion on how to move forward. By doing this, a leader will gain the respect of their team and solve problems promptly. A boss may have a negative stance. They will assume they know all the answers and perceive themselves to be an expert.
A good sign of leadership is accountability. Being able to take accountability for their actions is a sign that the leader is responsible and won’t pin the blame on anyone else. However, a boss might seek to blame their team. They also might shirk the responsibility of facing up to the consequences of an event or their actions.
A team needs to know that their leader will step up when needed and accept accountability, good or bad. If employees know their leader will take accountability, they will have faith in them and be more inclined to follow them.
Similarly to having a receptive stance, a leader will have strong communication skills. This means having a two-way dialogue with their team and listening to their needs. Strong leadership qualities involve setting clear expectations and listening to the responses from their team and adjusting as necessary. Good communication is the key to clarity and efficiency, and a good leader will understand this.
A boss will feel that communication is a one-way street. Their team will suffer as a result, not being able to voice their concerns or talk about solutions to challenges.
A team needs to know that their leader is focused on them, and not looking inwards. A good leader will be focused on the ‘we’ instead of the ‘I’. For a team to work well, all members must be pulling in the same direction and focusing on the same goals. A leader will instigate this by focusing on the team, instead of their own goals.
A boss will be more likely to look at themselves, their own goals, and what drives them on instead of the team.
A leader that is involved in the daily tasks of a team inspires success. A big motivation factor is seeing a leader roll up their sleeves and helping a team get the job done when needed. It can be common for bosses to delegate and instruct, before disappearing until the work is done. Leaving the employees to work on their own could be empowering, but if there are significant challenges the leader should participate in the solution.
There is a fine line between empowerment to get the job done and abandoning the team. A good leader will know the difference and know when to get stuck in.
With 77% of organisations reporting that leadership is lacking, it’s clear to see that working on your leadership qualities has never been more important. There are courses available for developing leadership skills, but for a boss to improve their leadership style, they should observe and understand their team.
A leader’s greatest source of information and resource is their team, not their own knowledge. While individual knowledge is important, it is only part of the route to success. After all, a leader is only as good as their team – and the team will only improve under the guidance of a strong leader.
A good leader will draw upon their team, empower them to succeed, and motivate them to strive for perfection. They will do all this while striving for effective communication. By enhancing their leadership qualities and styles, a boss can become a leader and grow their business with the help of their team. A strong, tight-knit team is part of the foundations of a successful business.
By looking at the above leadership qualities, we can see that there is a clear separation between a boss and a leader. It takes time to evolve into an effective leader, but a boss should always strive to become a leader.
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