Why “Bosses” are Poor Leaders

20130202-045559.jpgAre you “The Boss” of the operation? Do you “boss” people around? Are you considered by others to be “bossy?”

I hope not, for your sake and the sake of the people who you are apparently supposed to lead.
The position you have or the title you’ve been given (or maybe gave yourself) might make you a boss but it can’t make you a leader. Being a boss and being a leader are at nearly opposite ends of the management spectrum. The mindset of someone who is a “boss” and the mindset of someone who is a leader are as different as night and day.

Bosses are a dime a dozen. Leaders can be one in a million.

A boss tells. A leader shows. A boss forces compliance. A leader earns commitment. A boss criticizes. A leader coaches. A boss tends to care about themselves. A leader cares about others. A boss is almost always a chore to work for. A leader is always always a joy to work with. A boss confronts with anger. A leader confronts with care. A boss says “I.” A leader says “We.” A boss has no followers. A leader does.

I believe it is impossible to have the mindset of a “boss” and still be a leader. They are just too different. If you see your people as employees then you’re likely a boss, if you see your people as people then you at least have the opportunity to be a leader.

Being a boss might produce some short-term satisfaction but being a leader can produce a lifetime (sometimes many lifetimes) of fulfillment and contentment. Being a leader is actually less stressful than being a boss because your people are moving with you instead of constantly shearing away from you. Being a boss is a job, being a leader is a joy.

So, now that you understand the difference, let me ask you, are you a boss or a leader?

15 thoughts on “Why “Bosses” are Poor Leaders

  1. LA says:

    I completely agree with your take on leadership. Very well said!

    In fact, I wrote a blog on a similar topic which was posted on the Women’s Business Network (Ottawa) website. The post highlights the importance of leading by example and treating employees with respect and civility. Here is the link – I would love to get your views if you have the chance to read it: http://www.womensbusinessnetwork.ca/?lid=FBD68-75259-R4XER&comaction=show&cid=8MM8J-U4DVV-FETJX

  2. I aspire to be a leader. I give the people I work with my best, and am confident they are in turn, giving me their best. I offer suggestions, and welcome them as well, and the mutual respect we have fostered has helped us achieve some exciting things together. Most of the examples I have had throughout my career were of the “boss” variety, but I guess it’s true that you can learn what not to do. I trust my people and they trust me, and there’s not much more I could ask for.

  3. Great article Steve! Throughout my career, I’ve worked for a few leaders, but far too many bosses. Even outside a work setting, the bosses tended to be boorish and narcissistic. The sad thing is businesses today seem to seek out people with a “boss mentality” for management positions because of their aggressive task-master personalities. These types of people are perceived (incorrectly) as the best managers for getting results. My experience has been they impede results due to creating an atmosphere of constant conflict, poor morale and high turnover. The only thing bosses ever really motivated me to do was transfer to another department, or failing that, seek employment somewhere else. The silver lining in all of this is I saw every boss I ever worked for as a bad example (especially when compared to the leaders I reported to) and learned to manage people the exact opposite way. As a result, I can definitely say I am a leader.

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