The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader: Which One Are You?

Remember, 80% of people don’t leave the company they work for, they leave the person they directly work for. In other words, they leave their bosses. Being a boss and not a leader is the biggest pitfall of this 80%, and this leads to an elevated rate of employee turnover, a serious cost for your business.

But the ability to lead isn’t one that materializes when you step into a C-level role, it’s a skillset that has to be earned. With conscious effort over time, developing and strengthening your personal leadership, being a leader and not just a boss, can make a world of difference to your company and those who work for it.

Find out the difference between a boss and a leader and which one you are in the following Arden Coaching boss vs. leader breakdown. We’ll start with what makes a boss a boss.

Bosses Have Workers

A boss is, well, bossy. He or she primarily tells others what to do. Bosses have workers who work for them because bosses have to, not because they want to.

If you’re all boss and no leader, you likely use a carrot-and-stick approach to motivate your employees. If they do well, there’s the promise of a raise or other benefit. If they don’t obey your orders, they get the stick: reprimanded, demoted, fired.

Being a Boss and Employee Performance: When people aren’t motivated by their boss or direct manager, they get bored and don’t look forward to coming to work each day. If you’re more boss than leader, your employees likely only do the bare minimum of what they’re expected to do. Think about it: When did resenting the person you work for make you want to do the best you could?

Boss to Employee Relationship and Work Environment: Bosses tend to keep the personal aspect out of the job. If you’re a boss, not a leader, developing relationships with the people who work for you probably isn’t a priority for you. Boss-run work environments can become stifling and unpleasant, especially if people aren’t able to share their ideas without being criticized or punished.

Leaders Have Followers

Behind every leader are followers who want to work for them, employees who are inspired to pursue the direction that they’ve set for them, personally and for the organization. A leader understands the people who work for them on a deeper level. Because of this, he or she knows how to motivate them toward a common goal and reward them properly for a job well done.

Leadership and Employee Performance: True leaders possess the power to motivate others. By listening to and actively engaging with their employees, leaders challenge and inspire those they interact with to go above and beyond the walls of their prescribed job duties.

Leaders are also known to leave a lasting legacy, cultivate company loyalty and retention, and help employees develop into the organization’s next leaders. Strong relationships lend themselves to strong teams. Employees are more likely to come to a leader when they need your resources instead of looking elsewhere.

A Leading Work Environment: Using authenticity, steadfast communication, and a strong understanding of others, leaders create a team-oriented, feedback-driven, appreciation-based work environment. An atmosphere that’s open to new ideas and always learning is one that benefits everyone on the team at all levels.

Bringing Out Your Inner Leader: How a Coach Can Help

Which of the descriptions above sounds more like you: boss or leader? Arden’s coaches work with executives who want to maximize their leadership potentials every day. Asking whether you think you’re a boss or a leader is an entry-level question that can help you determine where your skills stand now and how it is you’d like them to improve.

Strengthening your top executives’ leadership is a key part of your organization’s development. For more information about how executive coaching can help your company go further, download our free introductory guide How Does an Executive Coaching Engagement Work? This helpful eBook is packed with information about Arden’s coaching process and approach, answers to some of the most common questions we receive from coaching candidates, and examples of scenarios in which coaching partnerships are most successful. Download yours now!