Don’t Be a Boss, Be a Leader

Yesterday was National Bosses’ Day and as a result, I got lots of nice well wishes and cards, etc. Which was great! But also, I hate it. 

Let me explain. I am very glad that the people who work here think well of me! But the word boss just seems weighted down to me with negative connotations. Boss is the root of bossy after all and no one wants to be bossed around. 

I definitely don’t think of myself as “the boss.”

In those old-time prison movies, the inmates called the warden boss. A boss is often the character at the butt of jokes, complaints, and stories about bad behavior. And there certainly are plenty of people in management positions who fit those stereotypes to perfection. 

That is not who I am aiming to be nor how I want people who work here to think of me. And I don’t think they do. But that’s on purpose. 

Are you the boss at your business? Boss in the sense of it above where it means the person who is in charge by virtue of the fact that they are the one who can fire other people and not because they have earned the respect of the people they manage? 

If you are then aside from any other concerns chances are you are not getting the best results. 

My suggestion is not to be a boss but rather to be a leader. The job may seem to be the same from a distance but I assure you it’s not. 

Let’s take a look at the differences and you can decide where you fit and think about any changes you might want to make. 

The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader

These are just off the top of my head from observing business owners over the years and having been an employee, a manager, and an owner myself: 

  • A boss tells people what to do, a leader asks for input before making a decision
  • A boss is quick to criticize and slow to praise, a leader is the opposite 
  • A boss will play favorites, a leader will try to lift everyone up 
  • A boss expects respect because of their position, a leader earns respect because of their actions
  • A boss will use threats to coerce action, a leader will use encouragement to inspire action 
  • A boss will expect not to be questioned while a leader is open to suggestions 
  • A boss will give themselves perks over others when a leader will look for ways to reward others over themselves 
  • A boss will lead by giving orders but a leader will lead by example 
  • A boss will give the hardest jobs to the people they like the least while a leader will take hard jobs themselves 
  • A boss won’t always keep calm and professional and will let their personal feelings impact their decisions while a leader will keep a clear head and be fair and even-tempered in trying times

I could go on but I am sure you get the idea even before I went down the list. A boss is someone you work for but may neither like nor respect. A good leader may or may not be someone you like but certainly someone you respect and who you know respects your back. Most of the time a good leader is also someone you like and want to do a good job for even when they may not be there to see it in the moment. A boss on the other hand may often find people slacking off as soon as their back is turned. 

Just because you are the owner doesn’t mean you should expect people to respect you or want to work hard to do a good job. 

Those are things you earn by treating people fairly, encouraging them when they do well, giving honest and useful feedback when they have room to improve and always treating them, no matter what job they have or where they are in the business, with respect and humanity. 

It’s not at all hard to do and it pays huge dividends and plus it feels good when you know people want to do a good job because they in turn respect you. 

If you don’t think you’re doing all you can to be a great leader and not just a boss, now is the time to start! By the time the next bosses’ day rolls around, you won’t want to be a “boss” either! 

Spread the word:

Similar Posts